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Whether you love math or hate it, it’s clear that the United States is failing to teach math. In fact, the latest PISA results show that the United States has not made any improvements in math since 1990. Even worse, the average math student continues to be beaten by international peers. In the past decade, the average math score has fallen for the first time.

What’s more, the PISA results showed that the average US student continues to be weaker than international students, and that the average math score of American high school graduates remains about the same as the average of high school dropouts in other countries. In other words, the United States continues to trail behind many advanced industrial nations in math and science.

This fact is a major problem for American students. It’s no wonder so many adults avoid careers that involve “too much math.” It’s also a problem for the schools. For one thing, students’ math skills are skewed because of their overreliance on rote memorization. Many teachers aren’t sure why their students seek math help from professionals. In fact, many adults have difficulty understanding how a restaurant tip works.

It’s also true that American students’ math skills are skewed by their over-reliance on rote memorization. They jump from concrete to abstract without fully grasping the ideas behind the concepts. This results in students making mistakes.

For example, the average US eighth-grade math score was statistically lower than the average score of seven other countries. While the US was the only country to experience a non-significant decline in eighth-grade math scores, 17 states saw a double-digit decline. Only Utah showed no decline.

Another problem is the way that high schools teach math. Many of them teach using methods that don’t make math easier to understand or approach. In fact, many students take advanced math courses where they are dominated by white students. Other countries teach three straight years of integrated math, which teaches data science and statistics. These methods can help students better conceptualize math and develop the problem-solving skills that are necessary for success in math.

The problem of math anxiety also seems to be a contributing factor. Some adults avoid math because they’re intimidated by the fact that they don’t understand it. Others are enamored by solving hard word problems when they have the chance. This problem seems to be exacerbated by the way that American schools are structured.

The solution to math anxiety is not to teach the same old methods that make math difficult. Students need to learn how to solve problems using more creative methods. However, in many school districts, there isn’t a concerted plan for math. Many school districts aren’t taking advantage of what works for math in other countries.

One solution is to consolidate geometry and algebra into a one-year course. This would free up more time for other math classes. Also, there have been some positive results from using frequent small-group tutoring.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Exodus University.

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