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Rubillo Stepping Down at NCTM

Jim Rubillo has announced that he is resigning as executive director of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics after seven years in that position.

NCTM, headquartered in Reston, Va., has had a strong influence on math instruction in the nation's classrooms, dating back decades. During Rubillo's tenure, NCTM released "Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8: A Quest for Coherence" and took an active role in attempting to shape policy at many levels.

The organization's president, Hank Kepner, recently informed the board and staff of the 100,000-member organization of Mr. Rubillo's decision.

Kepner credited Rubillo for his ability to "direct and inspire a large staff during a period of significant growth, increasing influence, and continuing business improvements for the council," in a statement.

Rubillo will step down on July 31, 2009. NCTM will conduct a nationwide search for a successor to Rubillo, which will be led by Francis M. "Skip" Fennell, the organization's past president.

Rubillo's is the latest in a run of resignations in the curriculum-and-assessment world. Gerald F. Wheeler is leaving as the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, and Charles Smith announced he will depart the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP (see my previous post).

Rubillo said he is most proud of having helped bring more financial stability to NCTM, which has about 100 employees and a $16 million annual budget, during his tenure. The organization's reserve funds are strong, which is important, he says, since the NCTM takes very little money from outside sources and incurs significant costs to put out documents such as Focal Points. He's also sought to improve the services NCTM offers over the Web.

While he says he tends to defer to NCTM's presidents when it comes to voicing the organization's policy positions, Rubillo said he has encouraged NCTM to take a more active stance in promoting and defending its policies. He has also sought to reach out to some of its critics, as has its former president, Fennell. (See my previous post on this.)

"When I first started, people were complaining that NCTM was not at any policymaking tables," Rubillo said jokingly."Now, they're saying they don't like the other people at the table."

"We're trying to create a dialogue" during those discussions, he said. "You have to show people you're sincere, and work at it."

One of the reasons Rubillo says he is announcing his resignation a year in advance is to give NCTM the opportunity to conduct a careful search for his replacement. He says he won't have a role in that decision. Rubillo, who turns 67 on Friday, has been dividing his nonwork time between the D.C. area and his home state of Pennsylvania, where his family lives.

A former community college teacher and administrator, Rubillo says he'd like to do some teaching after he leaves NCTM. He also vows to spend some time "ruminating around the shores of Chesapeake Bay," where he owns a property.

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