Sad State of Mathematics Education Part I

The various posts in this Blog all deal with topics in elementary mathematics.  I write about topics normally studied prior to Calculus.  I have suspicions about those more advanced topics, but I have no recent experience.

I will start this segment of posts with a report of the status of American mathematics education in 2017.  Reading data are just as dismal, but I will restrict my comments to mathematics.

Sixty-seven percent of the eighth graders in American public schools in 2017 were not proficient in mathematics according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress test results released by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics describes what it means to be “proficient” in math.

“Eighth-graders performing at the Proficient level should understand the connections between fractions, percents, decimals, and other mathematical topics such as algebra and functions,” says NCES. “Students at this level are expected to have a thorough understanding of Basic level arithmetic operations—an understanding sufficient for problem solving in practical situations.”

You can read more at the following websites.  I prefer the first.

https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/65-public-school-8th-graders-not-proficient-reading-67-not-proficient

Think about those numbers.  They mean that only one third (1/3) of students are successful at mathematics.  It is not rational to conclude that only 1/3 of students are mathematics capable.  I believe we must conclude that our mathematics education is responsible for this dismal failure.

The report shows that 40% are proficient at Grade 4, 34% are proficient at Grade 8, and 25% are proficient at Grade 12.  It appears that mathematics education is detrimental.  I think that is a real possibility!

When we drill down into the report we find even more disturbing data.  They will be the subject of the next few posts.

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