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Why do Americans Stink at Math

by Early Math Counts

Yesterday, one of my dearest friends sent me a link to this article from the New York Times ;

Why do Americans Stink at Math?


It is long.  So go and get yourself a good cup of strong coffee and pull up a chair.  This article not only explores the reasons why Americans suffer from profound innumeracy but it begins to dig at the roots of why American teachers struggle to teach math effectively. The article looks at international examples of math teaching that works and domestic examples from several decades of math education that didn’t work and continues not to work.

There is a sense of urgency as well.  The author describes multigenerational innumeracy: teachers who don’t know how to teach math effectively, colleges that don’t know how to prepare teachers to teach math effectively, teacher preparation programs that aren’t focusing on teaching as an art, and children who can’t puzzle out even the most basic math-based problems.

Here’s a teaser….

On national tests, nearly two-thirds of fourth graders and eighth graders are not proficient in math. More than half of fourth graders taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress could not accurately read the temperature on a neatly drawn thermometer. (They did not understand that each hash mark represented two degrees rather than one, leading many students to mistake 46 degrees for 43 degrees.) On the same multiple-choice test, three-quarters of fourth graders could not translate a simple word problem about a girl who sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday into the expression “15 + (2×15).” Even in Massachusetts, one of the country’s highest-performing states, math students are more than two years behind their counterparts in Shanghai.


What do you think?

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