Math Education in Jeopardy

algebra

Jay Matthews at The Washington Post wrote another piece about the crisis in our nation’s math instruction under Common Core. In his article he quotes a parent who happens to be a college chemistry professor.

John Fourkas, both a parent and a University of Maryland chemistry professor, said much of the Common Core-based math curriculum seems to him “completely disjointed, focusing too much on specialized vocabulary.” He said there is “not enough repetition of key skills as new topics are introduced.”

“Our son has had the misfortune of being on the leading edge of the reform, and so every year there is a new curriculum with which the teachers are not familiar,” Fourkas said. “Our son is in Algebra 2 this year, and I give them great credit for learning from their mistakes and designing a curriculum that is far more coherent.”

Matthews also discusses parental frustrations with the delay of algebra.

Carolyn Simpson, member of the school board in a district east of Seattle, said she was one of 600 parents petitioning her own board to open a path to eighth-grade algebra for the children of any parents who wanted it. But the majority of the board said no.

Elynn Simons has been tutoring students in the Washington area for 20 years. One of the reasons eighth-grade algebra is popular in the region, she said, is the advantage that acceleration brings to the college-admissions process. “If a student takes algebra in eighth grade, followed by geometry in ninth and Algebra 2 as a sophomore, they stand a chance of doing their best on the ACT and/or SAT second semester of their junior year,” she said.

This is why Common Core does not adequately prepare students for select colleges or collegiate STEM programs. They simply do not receive the math instruction in high school required.