AirTalk for August 22, 2012

Does math education need a makeover?

General Election - Education

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How can math education change to accommodate all students?

Compared to other countries, American students test poorly when it comes to math aptitude. Over the last sixty years, the proportion of math majors has declined by half.

A professor at Duke University, Jacob Vigdor says the strict testing requirements are bad for all students. The math curriculum currently calls for students to start studying algebra in 8th grade, which puts them on a trajectory to take calculus in high school.

Vigdor says many 8th graders aren’t ready to hit do coefficients and variables and should keep studying math fundamentals. Because students and teachers are pushed to excel at standardized tests, the entire math education system is compromised.

Is a one-size-fits-all curriculum bringing standards down? How should math education change and adapt? Is it practical to adapt entire school students to accommodate different ability levels?

Guests:

Jacob Vigdor, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at Duke University

Gary Lorden, Professor of Mathematics, California Institute of Technology


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