Solutions: The State of Math (in charts)
For those who like numbers, data, graphs, and charts, this post is for you!
U.S. students’ math performance dropped significantly during the pandemic and has yet to recover. But students at all levels of K-12 schooling have been struggling with geometry and statistics concepts for far longer.
Teachers have limited time and comfort with these math topics compared to algebra or number sense, experts say, making it more likely that geometry and probability get short shrift during the school year.
Momentum may be building for change.
Solution 1: Help teachers bridge the map gap.
“Many states are going through revision of their standards right now, and they’re including a lot more statistics and data science into their curriculum,” said Christine Franklin, the K-12 statistical ambassador for the American Statistical Association.
In nationally representative surveys in November 2022 and April 2023, K-12 math educators told the EdWeek Research Center that they had limited professional development in either the content or teaching approaches for statistics and geometry content.
“Many teachers are not really comfortable with teaching [data concepts], because it wasn’t something they had in their teacher preparation programs,” Franklin said.
“One of the issues that we’re trying to deal with is not only the professional development of teachers, but the professional development of teacher educators,” she said. “Most of the teacher educators are trained in [algebra-focused] mathematics, not statistics. So they are also in a position that they’re not comfortable with knowing exactly what they need to cover in the classes and how to cover them.”
Solution #2: Expand the Workforce
Experts say it’s important for schools to prepare and engage more students in statistics and data science careers, which the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow significantly faster than most other career sectors.
Moreover, these math-related jobs pay better than many other fast-growing career areas, such as athletes, cooks, or wind energy technicians.