Friday, January 16, 2009

The importance of Algebra

The Principal’s Corner with Mr. Bateson

Did you know that?
• 78%of adults in the U.S. cannot explain how to compute the interest paid on a loan
• 71% cannot calculate miles per gallon on a trip
• 58% cannot calculate a 10% tip for a lunch bill

This worries me but not nearly as much as I worry about how well our students are able to use math, especially algebra. I have excerpted the SEDL article below because it succinctly expresses the concerns I and many APS educators have:

“The National Mathematics Advisory Panel released its final report after nearly 2 years of hearing testimony and examining more than 16,000 research publications and policy reports. The panel noted that there is a “vast and growing demand for remedial mathematics education” at community colleges and 4-year colleges nationwide and also discussed the disparities in mathematic achievement related to race and income. According to the panel, “Success in mathematics education matters at the level of individual citizens because it opens options for college and career and increases prospects for future income” (p. 4)… The importance of algebra was emphasized in the report because, as the panel reported, “The sharp falloff in mathematics achievement in the U.S. begins as students reach late middle school, where, for more and more students, algebra course work begins” (p. xiii). The panel discussed other findings linked to the study of algebra:
• The probability a student will enroll in a 4-year college correlates substantially with completion of high school math beyond Algebra II.
• The majority of workers who earn more than $40,000 annually have two or more high school credits at the Algebra II level or higher.
• Two-thirds of the students who took Algebra II in high school reported they were well-prepared for the demands of the workplace.”
At Taylor, our math department is seriously looking at ways we can both engage our students mathematically while at the same time emphasizing the importance of math in adult life. Parents must be partners in this effort. If you feel inadequate to help your child with her math homework, plan to attend our MATH Night on the 27th. Our math teachers are here to help not just our kids but also our parents. It’s never too late to become better at math!

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