Friday, April 01, 2005

Math troubles

Chris Correa points us in the direction of an intersting article in Education Week. According to the article, it isn't reading or writing that is so difficult for minority students but math. The article opens:
Researchers from the United Negro College Fund went to West Virginia last year and asked 62 high school dropouts in the federal Job Corps program a simple, open-ended question. “What was it about school,” they wanted to know, “that caused you to quit?”

With surprising consistency, a majority of the participants, most of whom were African-American or Hispanic, gave the same answer: “Math.”

I think this is very important. And I suspect the problem goes far beyond our country's minority population. I see it in the students in the college where I teach. Many of the students do not come to college prepared to do college level math. I am talking here about white male students coming out of Louisiana high schools.

As the article says, we have to do something to improve math instruction and help all our students with math. The decision at my school has been to lower expectations. We will no longer require students to take a college algebra class, opting to offer a more "practical" type of math instead.

Somehow, I don't think that is the answer.

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