Teaching how to think
Offering her opinion, Allen says the issues are neither the requirement for the number of years students take math nor the curriculum.
The curriculum has not changed that much through the years even with the Common Core standards, said Allen, who added that she taught math for 12 years. “The issue is with how the students are taught specific topics,” she said.
Allen said students need to be taught how to do math problems using specific computations and to apply the computational knowledge to problems in the real world that are meaningful to them.
“If they are not taught how to ‘think,’ weaknesses will abound when trying to assess mathematical knowledge at the beginning college level,” Allen said. “I have always held the belief that teachers are the most important part of the learning process.”
When teachers provide meaningful instruction with exceptional motivational techniques and accountability efforts, students will achieve success, she added.
And students at Goshen High School are learning math the way it’s currently taught, Younghans added.
“In fact, our math scores are pretty good in both ECA and our International Baccalaureate (IB) program results,” Younghans said. “Most of our students report back to us that they are very prepared for college level classes.”
Woodworth agrees and added there’s room for improvement, as well.
“Yes, our students are learning, but there are areas in which we need to continue to grow,” the superintendent said.
Not all skill sets are equal
So, what can be done to improve math literacy at the high school level to keep students from having to take a remedial class?
As a high school principal, Younghans says students need to continually and repeatedly be asked to think and solve problems at high levels in all classes, not just math.