I’m analyzing data from a study we did on effectiveness of our games in teaching math and the scores for the control groups are extremely depressing. They’re perfect control groups because they qualified for our study based on being a low income and our software was available to them for free. They just didn’t get around to using it.
I used to think news stories about how far behind American kids were in math were an exaggeration. I was wrong.
When my kids were in middle school, I’d read these articles about how far behind U.S. kids were in math and shake my head. Sure, my kids weren’t as dedicated as I would have liked, but they all did fine in Algebra in the eighth grade, complained about trigonometry in their sophomore year and hated proofs in geometry. They didn’t grasp Calculus as well as I would like but I can guarantee you that it was from lack of effort because I saw how much they (didn’t) study. That hardly seemed a crisis.
However bad you think the average student is doing, it’s worse
I had no idea how bad the situation was. People who write math standards must be on drugs. The average student is nowhere near their grade level “standard”.
How far below are they? Here is one question from a test:
Mary likes to go out to eat a lot. Monday she spent $35, Tuesday $25, Wednesday $25 and Thursday $30. How much did she spend altogether?
Over a fourth of the middle school students got that wrong.
Here’s one 92% of the students missed:
Bob had 1/2 pound of hamburger. He divides it into 1/4 equal portions. How much does he have, in pounds, in each portion?
This is math they were supposed to have learned two or three years earlier. When are we supposed to start trying to get them to catch up? Apparently the answer is “Never”.
Is it any wonder that only one-fourth of 12th grade students score as “proficient” in math?
I’ve taught introductory statistics at the undergraduate level. Stats 101. These students are so far from prepared for taking a college level course it’s criminal. And yet, their schools and parents go on year after year as if it is no big deal.
Your kids are going to fail in life if they fail at math. It’s not a guarantee but the odds are against them.
Knowledge of math is the true barrier to social mobility for most kids. Maybe you are independently wealthy and don’t have to worry about your kids getting a job. Lucky you. For many, many students, they are going to graduate from high school, maybe go to a community college and find out that they need two or three more math classes before they can even take a class for college credit. Get a degree in something like computer science or go to medical school? You’ll need a minimum of a year of Calculus for that. That’s another year of math before you even have the prerequisites for Calculus done, after the two years of “Developmental Math”.
So, they drop out, or they switch their major from “pre-med” to Communications. Do you know how many times I have heard a student tell me that their choice of major was :
“Because it was the major that required the least math.”
So, kids are tragically far behind, it’s going to impact their chances in life and when I talk to the school administration, the teachers, the parents, they always say the same thing,
“Oh, yeah, I’m going to look at your software when I get some time.”
Two years later, they are in the exact same position. Now, of course I think our games are great and you should use them. Heck, we even offer lots of free software that you can use and we have options for any computer or phone. What makes me really crazy is that I don’t see these adults doing ANYTHING different. In 2020, they’ll still have a middle school full of kids who can’t add four numbers or figure out that if you divide 1/2 into four parts you get 1/8.
What are you so busy doing that is that much more important than your kids?