Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

January 12, 2014

Local educators recognize math challenges, realities

GOSHEN According to the Indiana Commission on Higher Education, one out of every three Hoosier high school graduates who go on to college must take a remedial class and about 90 percent are taking math remediation.

Goshen High School Principal Barry Younghans has seen similar data and gave his reasons why students may need more help with math in college.

“I believe algebra is a difficult subject, as well as other higher-level math courses,” Younghans said last week. “I think many students have a basic understanding of the concepts needed, but do not have the depth of knowledge needed to be successful in college-level algebra. The algebra End-of-Course Assessment (ECA) is a minimum competency test. College algebra and math demands more than that.”

Middlebury Community Schools Superintendent Jane Allen doesn’t disagree with the data, but has some reservations with the results.

“The statistic of one third of the students needing remediation is surprisingly high to me,” Allen said, “when considering Northridge High School students and the rest of the students in Elkhart County.”

Since statistics suggest math is the subject most often holding students back, it’s the subject coming under the heaviest scrutiny. And math education researchers are calling for a fundamental redesign of how the subject is taught throughout school, not just at the college level. Are some of the issues with the curriculum, teachers, and/or the number of years students have to take math?

Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth says this is not a simple issue.

“I think we have the continuing challenge to teach students more at the conceptual level, so that they understand why mathematics works the way it does, and not just memorize algorithms and such,” Woodworth said. “Some of this is that we have not had the right curriculum. Some of it might be that teachers have not been prepared properly to teach at higher levels of learning. And some of it has to do with the motivation of students.”

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