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Do We Teach Math the Wrong Way?

A new report shows just how far behind American students lag when compared to other countries in math education.


A new report published in the journal Education Next finds that the U.S. is decidedly lacking in number of "highly accomplished" math students. Other countries have a relative plethora of students performing better the 94th percentile of performance among Americans taking the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)—the point where the study considers an American student "advanced." In 2006, 30 countries, including Taiwan, Finland, and even Estonia, outperformed American students on the PISA math test.

The Hechinger Report's HechingerEd blog suggests that the reason American students are falling behind in math has to do with the way we teach the subject. A comparison done in the spring looked at the relative methods for math instruction here and abroad.

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President Obama tells us that by 2020, we need an additional eight million more Americans to graduate from college. The pressure is now on for community colleges to deliver.

This is the time of year Inver Hills Community College Vice President Barbara Read stands in the door of the admissions office and greets new students with a four-word question: “What is your goal?”

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Given the release of the National Governors Association's Common Core Standards last week, it's an interesting exercise to consider different states' standards for when kids learn different skills. An interactive map over at the Hechinger Report breaks down when elementary and middle school students learn three pretty basic pieces of information: How to use an adverb, how to tell time to the minute, and who the president is.

Here's an interesting piece of data to discuss at your next cocktail party: Whereas students in Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico, and Virginia need to know that Barack Obama is our commander-in-chief by the end of kindergarten, a student in Maine need not know that tidbit until the 8th grade.

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