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## America’s kids are terrible at math coming out of the pandemic as Harvard professor warns of ‘a generation’s worth of progress lost’

On a breezy July morning in South Seattle, a dozen elementary-aged students ran math relays behind an elementary school.

One by one, they raced to a table, where they scribbled answers to multiplication questions before sprinting back to high-five their teammate. These students are part of a summer program run by the nonprofit School Connect WA, designed to help them catch up on math and literacy skills lost during the pandemic . There are 25 students in the program, and all of them are one to three grades behind.

One 11-year-old boy couldn’t do two-digit subtraction. Thanks to the program and his mother, who has helped him each night, he’s caught up. Now, he says math is challenging, but he likes it.

Other kids haven’t fared so well.

Across the country, schools are scrambling to catch up students in math as post-pandemic test scores reveal the depth of missing skills. On average, students’ math knowledge is about half a school year behind where it should be, according to education analysts.

Children lost ground on reading tests , too, but the math declines were particularly striking. Experts say virtual learning complicated math instruction, making it tricky for teachers to guide students over a screen or spot weaknesses in problem-solving skills. Plus, parents were more likely to read with their children at home than practice math.

The result: Students’ math skills plummeted across the board, exacerbating racial and socioeconomic inequities in math performance. And students aren’t bouncing back as quickly as educators hoped, supercharging worries about how they will fare in high school and whether science, tech and medical fields will be available to them.

The Education Reporting Collaborative, a coalition of eight newsrooms, is documenting the math crisis facing schools and highlighting progress. Members of the Collaborative are AL.com, The Associated Press, The Christian Science Monitor, The Dallas Morning News, The Hechinger Report, Idaho Education News, The Post and Courier in South Carolina, and The Seattle Times.

Students had been making incremental progress on national math tests since 1990. But over the past year, fourth and eighth grade math scores slipped to the lowest levels in about 20 years , according to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “Nation’s Report Card.”

“It’s a generation’s worth of progress lost,” said Andrew Ho, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

At Moultrie Middle School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Jennifer Matthews has seen the pandemic fallout in her eighth grade classes. Her students have shown indifference to understanding her pre-algebra and Algebra I lessons.

“They don’t allow themselves to process the material. They don’t allow themselves to think, ‘This might take a day to understand or learn,’” she said.

And recently students have been coming to her classes with gaps in their understanding of math concepts. Basic fractions, for instance, continue to stump many of them, she said.

Using federal pandemic relief money, some schools have added tutors or piloted new curriculum approaches in the name of academic recovery. But that money has a looming expiration date: The September 2024 deadline for allocating funds will arrive before many children have caught up.

Like other districts across the country, Jefferson County Schools in Birmingham, Alabama, saw students’ math skills take a nosedive from 2019 to 2021. Leveraging pandemic aid, the district placed math coaches in all of their middle schools.

The coaches help teachers learn new and better ways to teach students. About 1 in 5 public schools in the United States have a math coach, according to federal data . The efforts appear to be paying off: State testing shows math scores have started to inch back up for most of the Jefferson County middle schools.

In Pittsburgh’s school system, which serves a student population that is 53% African American, special education teacher Ebonie Lamb said it’s “emotionally exhausting” to see the inequities between student groups. But she believes those academic gaps can be closed through culturally relevant lessons, and targeting teaching to each student’s skill level.

Lamb said she typically asks students to do a “walk a mile in my shoes” project in which they design shoes and describe their lives. It’s a way she can learn more about them as individuals. Ultimately, those connections help on the academic front. Last year, she and a co-teacher taught math in a small group format that allowed students to master skills at their own pace.

“All students in the class cannot follow the same, scripted curriculum and be on the same problem all the time,” she said.

Adding to the challenge of catching kids up is debate over how math should be taught. Over the years, experts say, the pendulum has swung between procedural learning, such as teaching kids to memorize how to solve problems step-by-step, and conceptual understanding, in which students grasp underlying math relationships.

“Stereotypically, math is that class that people don’t like. … For so many adults, math was taught just as memorization,” said Kevin Dykema, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “When people start to understand what’s going on, in whatever you’re learning but especially in math, you develop a new appreciation for it.”

Teaching math should not be an either-or situation, said Sarah Powell, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who researches math instruction. A shift too far in the conceptual direction, she said, risks alienating students who haven’t mastered the foundational skills.

“We actually do have to teach, and it is less sexy and it’s not as interesting,” she said.

In Spring, Texas, parent Aggie Gambino has often found herself searching YouTube for math videos. Giada, one of her twin 10-year-old daughters, has dyslexia and also struggles with math, especially word problems. Gambino says helping her daughter has proved challenging, given instructional approaches that differ from the way she was taught.

She wishes her daughter’s school would send home information on how students are being taught.

“The more parents understand how they’re being taught,” she said, “the better participant they can be in their child’s learning.”

Even at a nationally recognized magnet school, the lingering impact of the pandemic on students’ math skills is apparent. At the Townview School of Science and Engineering in Dallas, the incoming ninth graders in Lance Barasch’s summer camp course needed to relearn the meaning of words like “term” and “coefficient.”

“Then you can go back to what you’re really trying to teach,” he said.

Barasch wasn’t surprised that the teens were missing some skills after their chaotic middle school years.

The hope is that by taking a step back, students can begin to move forward.

Claire Bryan of The Seattle Times, Trisha Powell Crain of AL.com, Maura Turcotte of The Post and Courier, and Talia Richman of The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.

The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

## Most Popular

## College students are still struggling with basic math. Professors blame the pandemic

U.S. colleges are searching for solutions as they see alarming numbers of students arrive with gaps in their math skills

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Diego Fonseca looked at the computer and took a breath. It was his final attempt at the math placement test for his first year of college. His first three tries put him in pre-calculus, a blow for a student who aced honors physics and computer science in high school.

Functions and trigonometry came easily, but the basics gave him trouble. He struggled to understand algebra, a subject he studied only during a year of remote learning in high school.

“I didn’t have a hands-on, in-person class, and the information wasn’t really there,” said Fonseca, 19, of Ashburn, Virginia, a computer science major who hoped to get into calculus. “I really struggled when it came to higher-level algebra because I just didn’t know anything.”

Fonseca is among 100 students who opted to spend a week of summer break at George Mason University brushing up on math lessons that didn’t stick during pandemic schooling. The northern Virginia school started Math Boot Camp because of alarming numbers of students arriving with gaps in their math skills.

Colleges across the country are grappling with the same problem as academic setbacks from the pandemic follow students to campus. At many universities, engineering and biology majors are struggling to grasp fractions and exponents. More students are being placed into pre-college math, starting a semester or more behind for their majors, even if they get credit for the lower-level classes.

Colleges largely blame the disruptions of the pandemic, which had an outsize impact on math. Reading scores on the national test known as NAEP plummeted, but math scores fell further, by margins not seen in decades of testing. Other studies find that recovery has been slow.

At George Mason, fewer students are getting into calculus — the first college-level course for some majors — and more are failing. Students who fall behind often disengage, disappearing from class.

“This is a huge issue,” said Maria Emelianenko, chair of George Mason’s math department. “We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third.”

For Jessica Babcock, a Temple University math professor, the magnitude of the problem hit home last year as she graded quizzes in her intermediate algebra class, the lowest option for STEM majors. The quiz, a softball at the start of the fall semester, asked students to subtract eight from negative six.

“I graded a whole bunch of papers in a row. No two papers had the same answer, and none of them were correct,” she said. “It was a striking moment of, like, wow — this is significant and deep.”

Before the pandemic, about 800 students per semester were placed into that class, the equivalent of ninth grade math. By 2021, it swelled to nearly 1,400.

“It’s not just that they’re unprepared, they’re almost damaged,” said Brian Rider, Temple's math chair. “I hate to use that term, but they’re so behind.”

Researchers say math learning suffered for various reasons. An intensely hands-on subject, math was hard to translate to virtual classrooms. When students fell behind in areas like algebra, gaps could go unnoticed for a year or more as they moved to subjects such as geometry or trigonometry. And at home, parents are generally more comfortable helping with reading than math.

As with other learning setbacks, math issues are most pronounced among Black, Latino, low-income and other vulnerable students, said Katharine Strunk, who led a study on learning delays in Michigan and is now dean of the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Those are the students who were most impacted by the pandemic, and they’re the ones who are going to suffer the longer-term consequences,” she said. “They’re not going to have the same access.”

Colleges say there’s no quick fix. Many are trying to identify gaps sooner, adopting placement tests that delve deeper into math skills. Some are adding summer camps like George Mason’s, which helped participants increase placement test scores by 59% on average.

In lieu of traditional remedial classes, which some research finds to be ineffective, more schools are offering “corequisite” classes that help students shore up on the basics while also taking higher courses like calculus.

Penn State tackled the problem by expanding peer tutoring. Professors report that students who participate have scored 20% higher on exams, said Tracy Langkilde, dean of Penn State's College of Science.

What's becoming a persistent problem at some colleges has been a blip for others. At Iowa State University, known for its engineering program, students entering in 2020 were far more likely to be placed in lower-level math classes, and grades fell. That group of students has had continued trouble, but numbers improved for the following year's class, said Eric Weber, math department chair.

At Temple, there's been no rebound. Professors tried small changes: expanded office hours, a new tutoring center, pared-down lessons focused on the essentials.

But students didn’t come for help, and they kept getting D's and F's. This year, Babcock is redesigning the algebra course. Instead of a traditional lecture, it'll focus on active learning, an approach that demands more participation and expands students' role in the learning process. Class will be more of a group discussion, with lots of problems worked in-class.

“We really want students to feel like they’re part of their learning,” Babcock said. “We can’t change their preparation coming in, but we can work to meet their needs in the best way possible.”

George Mason also is emphasizing active learning. Its new placement test helps students find gaps and fill them in before taking it again, with up to four attempts. During the school year, students struggling in math can switch to slower-paced versions that take two terms instead of one.

At math camp, Fonseca felt he was making up ground. He studied hard, doing practice problems on the train ride to camp. But when he got to the placement test's algebra portion, he made the same mistakes. His final score again placed him in pre-calculus.

The setback would have meant spending at least one extra semester catching up on math at George Mason. In the end, Fonseca decided to start at Northern Virginia Community College. After two years, he plans to transfer to one of Virginia's public four-year universities.

A couple weeks after camp, Fonseca again found himself taking a placement test, this time for the community college.

“I managed to use the knowledge of the boot camp, and I got into calculus," he said. “I didn't have any expectation I'd do that.”

The Education Reporting Collaborative, a coalition of eight newsrooms, is documenting the math crisis facing schools and highlighting progress. Members of the Collaborative are AL.com, The Associated Press, The Christian Science Monitor, The Dallas Morning News, The Hechinger Report, Idaho Education News, The Post and Courier in South Carolina, and The Seattle Times.

The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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## College students are still struggling with basic math. Professors blame the pandemic

George Mason Term Instructor Ermias Kassaye, left, helps a student figure out an equation during a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. Researchers say math learning suffered during the pandemic for various reasons. An intensely hands-on subject, math was hard to translate to virtual classrooms. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

George Mason Term Instructor Ermias Kassaye, standing left, leads a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. Dozens opted to spend a week of summer break at the university brushing up on math lessons that didn’t stick during pandemic schooling. The northern Virginia school started Math Boot Camp because of alarming numbers of students arriving with gaps in their math skills. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

A student uses his phone to copy the whiteboard at the end of a summer math boot camp session on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Students uses their bodies to plot their location on a graph based on the number they are holding during a summer math boot camp session on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. Researchers say math learning suffered during the pandemic for various reasons. An intensely hands-on subject, math was hard to translate to virtual classrooms. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Diego Fonseca, left, and his fellow students uses their bodies to plot their location on a graph based on the number they are holding during a summer math boot camp session on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. “I managed to use the knowledge of the boot camp, and I got into calculus,” Fonseca says. “I didn’t have any expectation I’d do that.” (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Students take part in a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

George Mason undergraduate math major David Wigginton writes an equation on a whiteboard as students Ethan Hill, right, and Diego Fonseca, center, take part in a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Rosa Sarmiento, second from left, and Alicia Davis, center, work together to solve the math equation written on a whiteboard during a summer math boot camp session on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

George Mason Term grad student Aman D’Souza, right, calls on Alicia Davis, second from left, during summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

A student takes a break next to a whiteboard during a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. The pandemic disrupted all learning but caused an outsize impact in math. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

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FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Diego Fonseca looked at the computer and took a breath. It was his final attempt at the math placement test for his first year of college. His first three tries put him in pre-calculus, a blow for a student who aced honors physics and computer science in high school.

Functions and trigonometry came easily, but the basics gave him trouble . He struggled to understand algebra, a subject he studied only during a year of remote learning in high school.

“I didn’t have a hands-on, in-person class, and the information wasn’t really there,” said Fonseca, 19, of Ashburn, Virginia, a computer science major who hoped to get into calculus. “I really struggled when it came to higher-level algebra because I just didn’t know anything.”

Fonseca is among 100 students who opted to spend a week of summer break at George Mason University brushing up on math lessons that didn’t stick during pandemic schooling. The northern Virginia school started Math Boot Camp because of alarming numbers of students arriving with gaps in their math skills.

Colleges across the country are grappling with the same problem as academic setbacks from the pandemic follow students to campus. At many universities, engineering and biology majors are struggling to grasp fractions and exponents. More students are being placed into pre-college math, starting a semester or more behind for their majors, even if they get credit for the lower-level classes.

Colleges largely blame the disruptions of the pandemic, which had an outsize impact on math. Reading scores on the national test known as NAEP plummeted, but math scores fell further , by margins not seen in decades of testing. Other studies find that recovery has been slow.

At George Mason, fewer students are getting into calculus — the first college-level course for some majors — and more are failing. Students who fall behind often disengage, disappearing from class.

“This is a huge issue,” said Maria Emelianenko, chair of George Mason’s math department. “We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third.”

For Jessica Babcock, a Temple University math professor, the magnitude of the problem hit home last year as she graded quizzes in her intermediate algebra class, the lowest option for STEM majors. The quiz, a softball at the start of the fall semester, asked students to subtract eight from negative six.

“I graded a whole bunch of papers in a row. No two papers had the same answer, and none of them were correct,” she said. “It was a striking moment of, like, wow — this is significant and deep.”

Before the pandemic, about 800 students per semester were placed into that class, the equivalent of ninth grade math. By 2021, it swelled to nearly 1,400.

“It’s not just that they’re unprepared, they’re almost damaged,” said Brian Rider, Temple’s math chair. “I hate to use that term, but they’re so behind.”

Researchers say math learning suffered for various reasons. An intensely hands-on subject, math was hard to translate to virtual classrooms . When students fell behind in areas like algebra, gaps could go unnoticed for a year or more as they moved to subjects such as geometry or trigonometry. And at home, parents are generally more comfortable helping with reading than math.

As with other learning setbacks, math issues are most pronounced among Black, Latino, low-income and other vulnerable students, said Katharine Strunk, who led a study on learning delays in Michigan and is now dean of the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Those are the students who were most impacted by the pandemic, and they’re the ones who are going to suffer the longer-term consequences,” she said. “They’re not going to have the same access.”

Colleges say there’s no quick fix. Many are trying to identify gaps sooner, adopting placement tests that delve deeper into math skills. Some are adding summer camps like George Mason’s, which helped participants increase placement test scores by 59% on average.

In lieu of traditional remedial classes, which some research finds to be ineffective, more schools are offering “corequisite” classes that help students shore up on the basics while also taking higher courses like calculus.

Penn State tackled the problem by expanding peer tutoring. Professors report that students who participate have scored 20% higher on exams, said Tracy Langkilde, dean of Penn State’s College of Science.

What’s becoming a persistent problem at some colleges has been a blip for others. At Iowa State University, known for its engineering program, students entering in 2020 were far more likely to be placed in lower-level math classes, and grades fell. That group of students has had continued trouble, but numbers improved for the following year’s class, said Eric Weber, math department chair.

At Temple, there’s been no rebound. Professors tried small changes: expanded office hours, a new tutoring center, pared-down lessons focused on the essentials.

But students didn’t come for help, and they kept getting D’s and F’s. This year, Babcock is redesigning the algebra course. Instead of a traditional lecture, it’ll focus on active learning, an approach that demands more participation and expands students’ role in the learning process. Class will be more of a group discussion, with lots of problems worked in-class.

“We really want students to feel like they’re part of their learning,” Babcock said. “We can’t change their preparation coming in, but we can work to meet their needs in the best way possible.”

George Mason also is emphasizing active learning. Its new placement test helps students find gaps and fill them in before taking it again, with up to four attempts. During the school year, students struggling in math can switch to slower-paced versions that take two terms instead of one.

At math camp, Fonseca felt he was making up ground. He studied hard, doing practice problems on the train ride to camp. But when he got to the placement test’s algebra portion, he made the same mistakes. His final score again placed him in pre-calculus.

The setback would have meant spending at least one extra semester catching up on math at George Mason. In the end, Fonseca decided to start at Northern Virginia Community College. After two years, he plans to transfer to one of Virginia’s public four-year universities.

A couple weeks after camp, Fonseca again found himself taking a placement test, this time for the community college.

“I managed to use the knowledge of the boot camp, and I got into calculus,” he said. “I didn’t have any expectation I’d do that.”

The Education Reporting Collaborative, a coalition of eight newsrooms, is documenting the math crisis facing schools and highlighting progress. Members of the Collaborative are AL.com, The Associated Press, The Christian Science Monitor, The Dallas Morning News, The Hechinger Report, Idaho Education News, The Post and Courier in South Carolina, and The Seattle Times.

The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

## Articles on Mathematics

Displaying 1 - 20 of 511 articles.

## A battlefield for ants? New study on ant warfare shows we could manipulate their fights

Samuel Lymbery , Murdoch University ; Bruce Webber , CSIRO , and Raphael Didham , The University of Western Australia

## 3 reasons we use graphic novels to teach math and physics

Sarah Klanderman , Marian University and Josha Ho , Marian University

## Arithmetic has a biological origin – it’s an expression in symbols of the ‘deep structure’ of our perception

Randolph Grace , University of Canterbury

## Heritage algorithms combine the rigors of science with the infinite possibilities of art and design

Audrey G. Bennett , University of Michigan and Ron Eglash , University of Michigan

## A brief illustrated guide to ‘scissors congruence’ − an ancient geometric idea that’s still fueling cutting-edge mathematical research

Maxine Calle , University of Pennsylvania and Mona Merling , University of Pennsylvania

## Rhyme and reason – why a university professor uses poetry to teach math

Ricardo Martinez , Penn State

## ‘Why would they change maths?’ How your child’s maths education might be very different from yours

Benjamin Zunica , University of Sydney ; Bronwyn Reid O'Connor , University of Sydney , and Eddie Woo , University of Sydney

## Too many school students are falling behind: how do we help those most at risk?

Melissa Cain , Australian Catholic University and Joanne Quick , Australian Catholic University

## X marks the unknown in algebra – but X’s origins are a math mystery

Peter Schumer , Middlebury

## Bazball by the numbers: what the stats say about English cricket’s ambitious but risky change of pace

Tim Newans , Griffith University and Christopher Drovandi , Queensland University of Technology

## Your genetic code has lots of ‘words’ for the same thing – information theory may help explain the redundancies

Subhash Kak , Oklahoma State University

## Will I ever need math? A mathematician explains how math is everywhere – from soap bubbles to Pixar movies

Hortensia Soto , Colorado State University

## 7 everyday ways to foster children’s math and literacy skills to avoid ‘summer slide’ learning loss

Audrey-Ann Deneault , University of Calgary ; Marissa Nivison , University of Calgary , and Sheri Madigan , University of Calgary

## Why putting off college math can be a good idea

Forrest Lane , Sam Houston State University

## How do we know health screening programmes work?

Christian Yates , University of Bath

## COVID-19 hurt kids’ math learning more than reading and writing – with the biggest setbacks in fall 2020

Scott A Imberman , Michigan State University and Katharine O. Strunk , Michigan State University

## Proving Fermat’s last theorem: 2 mathematicians explain how building bridges within the discipline helped solve a centuries-old mystery

Maxine Calle , University of Pennsylvania and David Bressoud , Macalester College

## England’s plan to introduce east Asia-style maths textbooks widely rejected by primary schools

Rachel Marks , University of Brighton

## How a 400 million year old fossil changes our understanding of mathematical patterns in nature

Sandy Hetherington , The University of Edinburgh and Holly-Anne Turner , University College Cork

## How to make better decisions – using scoring systems

Adrian Hopgood , University of Portsmouth

## Related Topics

- Mathematics education
- Maths education
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Laureate Professor of Mathematics, University of Newcastle

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Professor of Mathematics, Toronto Metropolitan University

Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Biology, University of Bath

PhD Candidate, Australian National University

Mathematician, University of Portsmouth

Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellow, Purdue University

Mathematics Education Primary and Secondary PGCE, Newcastle University

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## Teachers and too much homework contribute to maths anxiety – study

Level of maths anxiety within same school or classroom found to predict individuals’ maths achievement

If the thought of fractions or differential equations makes you break you out in a cold sweat, you are not alone. Maths anxiety – a negative emotional reaction to mathematics – is a global phenomenon, hampering maths achievement regardless of where people live, research has found.

It’s not only a child’s own maths anxiety that affects their performance but that of their peers: the largest and most culturally diverse study to date shows that in about half of countries, including England, the average level of maths anxiety within the same school or classroom predicts individual students’ maths achievement, independently of their own anxiety levels.

“Having found that the emotional state of one’s peer group may have an effect on children’s maths achievement, it is important for teachers, parents and policymakers to not only be mindful of a child’s own ability or emotional state, but the context in which they’re studying,” said Dr Nathan Lau, of the University of Western Ontario, who led the research.

Many people experience some degree of discomfort when confronted with a mathematical problem, ranging from mild tension to intense dread. Some people also experience physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating or feeling sick. Besides avoiding everyday situations involving numbers, people with such feelings may hold back from applying for promotions or pursuing careers in related subjects such as science, technology or engineering.

To better understand the contextual factors underpinning maths anxiety, Lau and colleagues analysed data from 1,175,515 students who participated in three large international studies of achievement. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , found that students in countries with higher levels of maths anxiety tend to achieve lower maths grades.

The strongest predictor of maths anxiety was how competent students perceived their maths teacher to be: those with less confidence in their teacher tended to feel more anxious. Being set large amounts of maths homework, and parental involvement in homework, also contributed to anxiety to a lesser degree.

In about half of countries, it wasn’t only the child’s own level of maths anxiety that predicted their achievement but that of their peers. One factor appeared to be the cultural acceptance of uncertain situations.

“It seems like the more rigid or less accepting of uncertainty [a culture is], the lower this peer group effect is,” Lau said. “We can’t really say if there’s a causal relationship, but one hypothesis is that teachers have a more organised way of teaching their materials [in such countries]. Possibly, children with maths anxiety prefer there to be fewer surprises, such as being called on to stand up and work out a question on a blackboard.”

Prof Margaret Brown, the president of the Maths Anxiety Trust, said: “It shows for the first time that maths anxiety is not just an individual phenomenon which affects maths attainment, but it also strongly correlates with other contextual factors like the pupils’ confidence in their teacher, teachers’ own confidence in their maths, and the amount of homework and parental involvement in completing it.

“It is also significant that maths anxiety varies across different countries. England’s results suggest that our secondary students are among the most seriously affected by maths anxiety, and that the effect of factors from both the school and home environment are particularly strong in England. This provides strong evidence that maths attainment in England could be improved by changing our mathematics curriculum, teaching styles and our examination system so that they cause less stress on students, teachers and parents.”

Prof Denes Szucs, the deputy director of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Neuroscience in Education, said: “This study confirms some of the things we already knew about maths anxiety, but using a giant sample.” His team recently interviewed 1,700 UK schoolchildren and found that a perception of maths being more difficult than other subjects often contributed to the problem. Teachers also played a role, with anxious children often reporting being confused by different teaching methods.

“The big question is what to do about it,” Szucs said. On an individual level, he recommended trying to disentangle feelings of anxiety from ability. “Our UK research showed that most children who are maths anxious are not actually low achievers, they just feel anxious about maths. Possibly they picked it up from their family or school, but it is not necessarily a justified anxiety.”

## What is maths anxiety?

Mathematics anxiety is officially defined as “a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations”.

Extreme maths anxiety is thought to affect 2-6% of UK secondary school pupils, although estimates vary, with another study suggesting that a third of UK apprentices experience “noticeable” maths anxiety, while 19% have a tendency to be anxious but may not show such clear signs. Females tend to express more anxiety about maths than males, although studies have suggested this gender gap does not develop until adolescence.

It is separate to dyscalculia, a specific and persistent cognitive difficulty in understanding numbers, although sometimes the two conditions overlap.

Maths anxiety does not necessarily correlate with ability: A 2018 study found that 77% of children with high maths anxiety were normal to high achievers on curriculum maths tests. However, it can limit performance in certain situations and contexts. One possibility is that the worries and intrusive thoughts associated with maths anxiety disrupt or compete for cognitive resources that are needed to solve mathematical problems.

- Mathematics

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## It Totally Peaked in High School

In his lively “Empire of the Sum,” Keith Houston looks at the best — and worst — years of the pocket calculator’s life.

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## What Improv Can Do for Mathematicians

Coaching sessions at the People’s Improv Theater were aimed at helping math experts connect with laypeople and give engaging presentations.

By James Barron

## In California, a Math Problem: Does Data Science = Algebra II?

After faculty protests and a debate over racial equity, the state’s public universities reconsider whether high school students can skip a foundational course.

By Amy Harmon

## U.S. Students’ Progress Stagnated Last School Year, Study Finds

Despite billions in federal aid, students are not making up ground in reading and math: “We are actually seeing evidence of backsliding.”

By Sarah Mervosh

## A.I. Is Coming for Mathematics, Too

For thousands of years, mathematicians have adapted to the latest advances in logic and reasoning. Are they ready for artificial intelligence?

By Siobhan Roberts

## The Terror of Threes in the Heavens and on Earth

Physicists have long explored how phenomena in groups of three can sow chaos. A new three-body problem, they warn, could lead to not only global races for new armaments but also thermonuclear war.

By William J. Broad

## What the New, Low Test Scores for 13-Year-Olds Say About U.S. Education Now

The results are the federal government’s last major data release on the academic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

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## Schools Received Billions in Stimulus Funds. It May Not Be Doing Enough.

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## With a New, Improved ‘Einstein,’ Puzzlers Settle a Math Problem

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## Robert J. Zimmer, Who Promoted Free Speech on Campus, Dies at 75

A mathematician, he was for many years the president of the University of Chicago, where he argued that civility was not a reason to silence discussion.

By Sam Roberts

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## An air quality alert in effect for 8 regions in the area

College students are still struggling with basic math. professors blame the pandemic.

Collin Binkley

Associated Press

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

George Mason Term Instructor Ermias Kassaye, left, helps a student figure out an equation during a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Va. Researchers say math learning suffered during the pandemic for various reasons. An intensely hands-on subject, math was hard to translate to virtual classrooms. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

FAIRFAX, Va. – Diego Fonseca looked at the computer and took a breath. It was his final attempt at the math placement test for his first year of college. His first three tries put him in pre-calculus, a blow for a student who aced honors physics and computer science in high school.

Functions and trigonometry came easily, but the basics gave him trouble . He struggled to understand algebra, a subject he studied only during a year of remote learning in high school.

“I didn’t have a hands-on, in-person class, and the information wasn’t really there,” said Fonseca, 19, of Ashburn, Virginia, a computer science major who hoped to get into calculus. “I really struggled when it came to higher-level algebra because I just didn’t know anything.”

Fonseca is among 100 students who opted to spend a week of summer break at George Mason University brushing up on math lessons that didn’t stick during pandemic schooling. The northern Virginia school started Math Boot Camp because of alarming numbers of students arriving with gaps in their math skills.

Colleges across the country are grappling with the same problem as academic setbacks from the pandemic follow students to campus. At many universities, engineering and biology majors are struggling to grasp fractions and exponents. More students are being placed into pre-college math, starting a semester or more behind for their majors, even if they get credit for the lower-level classes.

Colleges largely blame the disruptions of the pandemic, which had an outsize impact on math. Reading scores on the national test known as NAEP plummeted, but math scores fell further , by margins not seen in decades of testing. Other studies find that recovery has been slow.

At George Mason, fewer students are getting into calculus — the first college-level course for some majors — and more are failing. Students who fall behind often disengage, disappearing from class.

“This is a huge issue,” said Maria Emelianenko, chair of George Mason’s math department. “We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third.”

For Jessica Babcock, a Temple University math professor, the magnitude of the problem hit home last year as she graded quizzes in her intermediate algebra class, the lowest option for STEM majors. The quiz, a softball at the start of the fall semester, asked students to subtract eight from negative six.

“I graded a whole bunch of papers in a row. No two papers had the same answer, and none of them were correct,” she said. “It was a striking moment of, like, wow — this is significant and deep.”

Before the pandemic, about 800 students per semester were placed into that class, the equivalent of ninth grade math. By 2021, it swelled to nearly 1,400.

“It’s not just that they’re unprepared, they’re almost damaged,” said Brian Rider, Temple's math chair. “I hate to use that term, but they’re so behind.”

Researchers say math learning suffered for various reasons. An intensely hands-on subject, math was hard to translate to virtual classrooms . When students fell behind in areas like algebra, gaps could go unnoticed for a year or more as they moved to subjects such as geometry or trigonometry. And at home, parents are generally more comfortable helping with reading than math.

As with other learning setbacks, math issues are most pronounced among Black, Latino, low-income and other vulnerable students, said Katharine Strunk, who led a study on learning delays in Michigan and is now dean of the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Those are the students who were most impacted by the pandemic, and they’re the ones who are going to suffer the longer-term consequences,” she said. “They’re not going to have the same access.”

Colleges say there’s no quick fix. Many are trying to identify gaps sooner, adopting placement tests that delve deeper into math skills. Some are adding summer camps like George Mason’s, which helped participants increase placement test scores by 59% on average.

In lieu of traditional remedial classes, which some research finds to be ineffective, more schools are offering “corequisite” classes that help students shore up on the basics while also taking higher courses like calculus.

Penn State tackled the problem by expanding peer tutoring. Professors report that students who participate have scored 20% higher on exams, said Tracy Langkilde, dean of Penn State's College of Science.

What's becoming a persistent problem at some colleges has been a blip for others. At Iowa State University, known for its engineering program, students entering in 2020 were far more likely to be placed in lower-level math classes, and grades fell. That group of students has had continued trouble, but numbers improved for the following year's class, said Eric Weber, math department chair.

At Temple, there's been no rebound. Professors tried small changes: expanded office hours, a new tutoring center, pared-down lessons focused on the essentials.

But students didn’t come for help, and they kept getting D's and F's. This year, Babcock is redesigning the algebra course. Instead of a traditional lecture, it'll focus on active learning, an approach that demands more participation and expands students' role in the learning process. Class will be more of a group discussion, with lots of problems worked in-class.

“We really want students to feel like they’re part of their learning,” Babcock said. “We can’t change their preparation coming in, but we can work to meet their needs in the best way possible.”

George Mason also is emphasizing active learning. Its new placement test helps students find gaps and fill them in before taking it again, with up to four attempts. During the school year, students struggling in math can switch to slower-paced versions that take two terms instead of one.

At math camp, Fonseca felt he was making up ground. He studied hard, doing practice problems on the train ride to camp. But when he got to the placement test's algebra portion, he made the same mistakes. His final score again placed him in pre-calculus.

The setback would have meant spending at least one extra semester catching up on math at George Mason. In the end, Fonseca decided to start at Northern Virginia Community College. After two years, he plans to transfer to one of Virginia's public four-year universities.

A couple weeks after camp, Fonseca again found himself taking a placement test, this time for the community college.

“I managed to use the knowledge of the boot camp, and I got into calculus," he said. “I didn't have any expectation I'd do that.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

## Sparx Maths Blog

A look back at our baseline assessment package.

In July 2022 we launched a KS2-3 transition booklet, to support the student journey from primary school to secondary school ...

## A deep dive into how we structure content at Sparx Maths.

Over the last 10 years, the Sparx content design team have been creating and refining a quality bank of nearly 50,000 questions. Read more about how this fantastic content is structured to help support students and teachers. ...

## Can homework hand-in days affect homework completion?

In our flagship product, Sparx Maths, teachers are able to customise both the day that a homework assignment gets handed out and the day it is due. With this in mind, at Sparx Learning we wanted to investigate the question ...

## A lesson learned

An important lesson I’ve learnt from working at Sparx Learning is that subtle changes can have surprisingly large and sometimes unexpected effects on student behaviour and learning. That’s why it’s crucial to carefully roll out new features; we need to understand the impact and can only do this by monitoring closely and talking to students and teachers. ...

## College students are still struggling with basic math. Professors blame the pandemic

The Associated Press

August 31, 2023, 12:41 AM

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## Read 1st Grader's Sassy Note on Math Homework That Got Him 'Extra Credit'

The sassy note a child left on his math homework has left the internet in stitches.

Alex Helms from Charlotte, North Carolina, (u/pantherfanalex) shared his 6-year-old son's first-grade homework on Reddit 's r/funny subreddit. With over 22,000 upvotes and more than 1,700 comments, the page showing his math work has delighted thousands.

The question read: "Find 6 + 1. Show your work." The young boy had correctly answered it, writing "7" in the space, but where he was asked to show his work, he had written: "Because I know."

"We were hanging out at the house this weekend, and my wife called me over to show me his quiz," Helms told Newsweek . "She pointed out the answer on the back. I cracked up because I had a ton of trouble with showing my work in school, too."

In the post on Reddit, the dad joked, "My son is not a fan of showing his work..." and thousands of people loved the hilarious response.

"Tbf [To be fair], showing one's work in this scenario would be him just rewriting the problem and be a waste of his time lol [laugh out loud]," joked Reddit user Klone211. Others questioned how you would show the working for the math problem.

CipherXI wrote: "It's 6+1. The hells he supposed to do?"

"Honestly, I was never a fan of it either," posted BlazeSaber on Reddit. "Mostly because I could show my work, get the correct answer, and still get it wrong because I didn't show the method the teacher wanted."

Helms said that to show the working would involve a diagram; for example, by drawing six circles, plus one circle, to equal seven circles.

The dad said he was inspired to share the homework on Reddit because it cracked him up. "I shared it with my family, and, being a frequent Redditor, I thought I would share it there, too," Helms said. "When I went to bed, it was like 1,000 upvotes, and woke up to over 19,000. Wild.

"I showed it to him in the morning, and he didn't really understand what was funny," Helms said. He added that, because his son is good at math, he genuinely thought that he had the answer right when asked to show his work.

"He just understands math really well in his head," Helms said. "So, he figured that was his work. It should be noted that his teacher is fantastic and is working with him on showing his work. She gave him extra credit for the question!"

Of course, this isn't the first time homework has gained viral attention, like the little girl who gave a sweet answer to an assignment question in 2022 . Meanwhile, other homework posers have left people stumped, like the fifth grader's math question in October 2022 that was described as bonkers.

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## College students are struggling with basic math, many stuck at 9th grade level; professors blame the pandemic

Colleges are largely blaming the disruptions of the pandemic, which have resulted in a measurable decline in reading and math scores.

## Somebody has to declare a national emergency on education: Dana Perino

'The Five' co-hosts discuss the role education and parental rights will play in the 2024 presidential election.

Many students who lacked hands-on, in-person teachings due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and school closures are now struggling with basic math at the college level, according to some professors.

"Years of academy training wasted," Buzz Lightyear once famously said, but that fictitious line is now the reality for students at George Mason University, Temple University and other colleges across the country who once excelled at math and have been forced to relearn the basics as pandemic schooling failed to reinforce their learning.

Other schools are grappling with the same problem as academic setbacks from the pandemic have followed students to campus. At many universities, engineering and biology majors struggle to grasp basic functions such as fractions and exponents.

Some students are even being placed into pre-college math, starting a semester or more behind their programs’ requirements. Others are taking proactive action to avoid potential setbacks.

MSNBC HOST DEFENDS SCHOOL LOCKDOWNS FOR COVID, ATTACKS 'DANGEROUS MYTHS' OF LEARNING LOSS

A student takes a break next to a whiteboard during a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Virginia. The pandemic disrupted all learning but caused an outsize impact in math. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

George Mason University said an alarming number of students were arriving with gaps in their math skills, and fewer students are getting into calculus — the first college-level course for some majors — and more are failing. Students who fall behind often disengage, disappearing from class.

"This is a huge issue," Maria Emelianenko, chair of George Mason’s math department, told The Associated Press. "We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third."

The issue became so prevalent that the northern Virginia school is hosting a week-long Math Boot Camp to help catch students up on math lessons that did not stick during pandemic schooling.

Diego Fonseca, a 19-year-old student at George Mason, is among 100 students who joined the math camp because he struggled to understand algebra, a subject he only studied during remote learning.

"I didn’t have a hands-on, in-person class, and the information wasn’t really there," Fonseca said. "I really struggled when it came to higher-level algebra because I just didn’t know anything."

Before his school was forced to initiate remote learning, Fonseca aced honors physics and computer science.

George Mason Term grad student Aman D'Souza, right, calls on Alicia Davis, second from left, during summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Virginia. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Colleges are largely blaming the disruptions of the pandemic, which have resulted in a measurable decline in reading and math scores on the national test known as NAEP.

Testing for both subjects plummeted, but math fell further, by margins not seen in decades of testing.

BIDEN SLAMMED FOR TAKING CREDIT FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS: 'WILL TAKE YEARS FOR STUDENTS TO DIG OUT'

Jessica Babcock, a Temple University math professor, said the magnitude of the problem hit home for her last year while she was grading quizzes in her intermediate algebra class, the lowest option for STEM majors.

The quiz was described as an easy grade at the start of the fall semester. It included questions like asking students to subtract eight from negative six [Written out: -6 - 8 = ?].

"I graded a whole bunch of papers in a row. No two papers had the same answer, and none of them were correct," she said. "It was a striking moment of, like, wow — this is significant and deep."

George Mason Term Instructor Ermias Kassaye, standing left, leads a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Virginia. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Before the pandemic, about 800 students per semester were placed into the preliminary class, the equivalent of ninth-grade math. By 2021, it swelled to nearly 1,400.

Brian Rider, Temple's math chair, speaking of new students, added, "It’s not just that they’re unprepared, they’re almost damaged. I hate to use that term, but they’re so behind."

YET ANOTHER COVID VACCINE? AS BIDEN CALLS FOR NEW FUNDING, HEALTH EXPERTS SOUND OFF: ‘A SLIPPERY SLOPE'

Researchers say math learning suffered for various reasons. An intensely hands-on subject, math was hard to translate to virtual classrooms. When students fell behind in areas like algebra, gaps went unnoticed for a year or more as students moved onto subjects such as geometry or trigonometry.

Also, during in-home learning environments, parents are generally more comfortable helping with reading than math.

There is no simple solution either, colleges say, as many are trying to identify gaps sooner, adopting placement tests that delve deeper into math skills and some are adding summer camps like George Mason’s, which have proved effective in helping students.

Other schools offer "corequisite" classes that allow students to catch up on the basics while also taking higher courses.

Students take part in a summer math boot camp on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Virginia. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

At Temple, Babcock is redesigning the algebra course. "We really want students to feel like they’re part of their learning," the math professor said. "We can’t change their preparation coming in, but we can work to meet their needs in the best way possible."

Penn State, formerly known as Pennsylvania State University, is tackling the problem through expanding peer tutoring.

Tracy Langkilde, dean of Penn State's College of Science, said professors report students who participate in the tutoring have scored 20% higher on exams.

At other schools, the problem was isolated to a single graduation class like Iowa State University, known for its engineering program, when students who entered in 2020 struggled — likely being placed in lower-level math classes and seeing their grades fall — but numbers improved for the following year's class, said Eric Weber, math department chair.

A student uses his phone to copy the whiteboard at the end of a summer math boot camp session on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2023 at George Mason University in Fairfax. Virginia. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Fox News Digital contacted Temple University, Penn State and George Mason for additional comment, but a response was not immediately received.

Several schools and programs are continuing to study the impact of COVID lockdowns on students. Long-term effects may not be fully identified for years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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clock This article was published more than 5 years ago

## This is why it’s so hard to help with your kid’s math homework

Two years ago I walked into a car rental return center in Charlotte and interrupted Adrianette Felix mid-rant.

“I can’t even help my own child do her homework, it’s so frustrating, and I feel so stupid,” she said. “What kind of mother can’t understand first-grade math?”

Man needed help with son’s third-grade math homework and got it from a stranger on the subway

Felix and I spent the next half-hour engaged in a spirited discussion about the state of math education in America; how we got here, why it’s changed; and where experts on math education hope it’s taking us.

The simple answer to why math education has changed, “Common Core State Standards,” is only part of the story. Math teacher Christopher Danielson outlines the rest of the story in his book, “ Common Core Math for Parents for Dummies ,” and it goes something like this: Math education in America has evolved in response to concerns about our international competitiveness, first with Europe, and later, with Russia and its space program. Consequently, American math education prioritized the education of professional scientists and mathematicians who could get satellites in orbit and send men to the moon.

While we were busy chasing those lofty goals, we failed to educate most students in the basic foundations of math. To rectify this, the education pendulum swung back in the other direction, toward rote memorization. Cue the era of multiplication-table work sheets and timed math facts, tasks that still make up the bulk of elementary school math homework assignments.

The summer conundrum: Fight brain drain or give the kids a break?

Between 1989 and 2009, in large part because of the advent of No Child Left Behind , state standards and the testing necessary to measure states’ progress, math education became what Danielson refers to as a “mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum.” We teach many topics in each grade but at a superficial level. Math education became a series of skills served up in bits and pieces but never as part of a unified, mathematical whole.

Notably, we failed to give American children math sense, a natural and instinctive dexterity with numbers.

I was one of those children, despite having been educated in the top-ranked public school district in Massachusetts ( Dover-Sherborn Regional High School ). My mathematical education was characterized by drills memorization and instructions to accept abstract axioms and mathematical order of operations as “simply how it’s done,” concepts, my teachers promised, I would understand later. I dutifully followed their directions, memorized the steps and regurgitated on demand, but the understanding I had been promised never materialized. What I got instead was a raging case of math anxiety and the belief that I am not a math person.

It wasn’t until my mid-40s, when I retook Algebra with my middle school students and a gifted educator, that I discovered the truth: I had not failed at math; my math education had failed me.

With rare exception, most American children still receive a similarly counterproductive math education, one that produces adults who can recite multiplication tables but can’t make change when the cash register isn’t working, let alone view math as poetry.

“The highest achieving kids in the world are the ones who see math as a big web of interconnected ideas, and the lowest achieving students in the world are the kids who take a memorization approach to math. The United States, you won’t be surprised to hear, has more memorizers than any country in the world,” said Jo Boaler , professor of mathematics education at Stanford University, in a phone interview.

This chopping up of mathematical concepts, asserts Boaler, is where American math education fails children, and why Felix gets frustrated by her daughter’s math homework. Felix learned how to memorize, while her daughter is learning something much more valuable and useful: number sense, relevance and mental flexibility.

When the average teacher has about 200 separate math concepts or skills to teach in a given year, the connections between each piece disappear. “The kids don’t get to see them, and most teachers don’t know about them, either,” Boaler says. “When teachers are armed with the research about brain growth and [the reality that] everybody can learn math, it changes what they do. Teachers that are empowered with this research are doing amazing things. Really amazing things.”

Math coach Tracy Zager agrees. “It’s a phenomenal time to be a math teacher. We are in a time of great revolution and excitement, moving away from rote memorization and toward an understanding of process. It doesn’t mean that answers don’t matter, and it doesn’t mean that skills and memorization don’t matter, but when a student does something wrong, we want them to understand why, ” she said in a phone interview.

In her book, “ Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had ,” Zager writes, “Math is not about following directions, it’s about making new directions.” So I emailed her to ask about the direction she would take math education.

“We have to undertake the real work: high-quality, sustained, classroom-based professional development,” she said. “Doing it systematically would take money and time and belief in teachers as professionals.”

While teachers, administrators and education policymakers do battle over Zager’s question, Felix and her daughter need help today, with tonight’s homework assignment.

For that kind of practical advice, I returned to Danielson and his book, “Common Core for Math for Parents for Dummies.” Danielson suggests that parents stop giving kids easy answers and instead focus on asking these five essential questions:

- “Why?” and “How do you know?”
- “Is it good enough?”
- “Does this make sense?”
- “What’s going on here?”

The questions, “Why?” and “How do you know?” require children to construct arguments, to justify their answers and to think about the reasons their answer may be correct. It’s not enough to know that 8 + 4 = 12, as Danielson writes, students must be able to articulate how they might figure out the sum of 8 and 4 if they do not automatically know the answer.

“What if” is a fantastic question to ask in any context, but in math, it’s particularly important. “What if” is at the root of play, experimentation, innovation and exploration. “What if” allows us to push students to contemplate questions beyond their immediate understanding and can fuel curiosity, deeper learning and intellectual breakthroughs.

The question “Is it good enough” gets at the concepts of estimation and precision. Is it good enough to say that .99 repeating is close enough to 1 to say that they are equal? Asking this question requires that students pay attention to units and attend to precision both numerically and linguistically.

“Does this make sense?” is a great question to ask at every step of the process, from choosing a path forward (“Does it make sense to add here?”) to the final answer (“Does that answer make sense?”) and gives kids the opportunity to pause, take stock and exercise judgment. Sometimes, of course, the answer to this question is going to be, “No,” and wrong answers can be just as useful as the right ones, Danielson argues, because, “A classroom climate that only values right answers is less likely to encourage students to persevere.”

Finally, the question, “What’s going on here?” helps kids look for the underlying structure of a problem. For example, “If you know that n is a whole number, then 2 n is an even number and 2 n + 1 is an odd number. What’s more, the expression 2 n + 1 represents all odd numbers. This is the power of looking for and making use of structure — representing infinitely many things in a single short expression.”

I had given Felix a copy of Danielson’s book after we first met, so I called her to find out how she and her daughter are faring in math.

“Oh, honey, we are doing fantastic. That book was fantastic,” she said. “My daughter is doing great in math, and I can help her when she needs it. Plus, I get to feel smarter than a third-grader.”

This is where successful math education starts; with adults who know what questions to ask and who have the skills to help children discover their own solutions.

Jessica Lahey is a teacher and the author of “ The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed ” and a forthcoming book on preventing addiction in children.

Follow On Parenting on Facebook for more essays, news and updates, and join our discussion group here to talk about parenting and balancing a career. You can sign up here for our weekly newsletter.

More reading:

School’s still in. Here’s how to help them get through to the end.

9 ways parents can empower a child who has learning issues

10 ways to take the struggle out of homework

Barnard’s president on how to develop STEM-confident girls

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## Can YOU solve a 10-year-old's maths homework? As Rishi Sunak declares the subject should be compulsory until 18, TV presenter shares her child's homework online - and it leaves the internet baffled

By Jack Wright For Mailonline

Updated: 17:44 EDT, 4 January 2023

View comments

Can you solve a 10-year-old's maths homework?

That's the question which has left the internet baffled as Twitter users admit to scratching their heads after one parent shared her child's surprisingly tricky assignment online.

So as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declares that maths should be compulsory up to the age of 18 as he sets out his vision for Britain, we ask you... can you work out the answer?

At the beginning of the day, Hasim counted his money. He gave his brother 1/3 of his money. He spent £12 on a present for his sister. He then counted what he had left, and it was half what he had at the beginning of the day. How much money did he give his brother? Show your method

## WHAT IS THE QUESTION?

At the beginning of the day, Hasim counted his money. He gave his brother 1/3 of his money. He spent £12 on a present for his sister. He then counted what he had left, and it was half what he had at the beginning of the day. How much money did he give his brother? Show your method.

## WHAT IS THE INTERNET SAYING?

## RELATED ARTICLES

## Share this article

What is the answer.

If Hasim gave his brother 1/3 of his money, spent £12, and has half of his money left, then:

- 12 = (1/6)x

Then resolve x:

So how much did Hasim give his brother?

- 72/3 = £24

It comes as Mr Sunak's 'big idea' of making maths compulsory to the age of 18 was mocked today as a 'dead cat' to distract from the NHS crisis and winter of discontent

It comes as Mr Sunak's 'big idea' of making maths compulsory to the age of 18 was mocked today as a 'dead cat' to distract from the NHS crisis and winter of discontent.

In his first major speech as PM this afternoon, Mr Sunak promised to equip children for the 'jobs of the future' by combating high rates of innumeracy in the UK.

Young people will be forced to take 'some form' of maths delivered either through new courses or existing qualifications such as A-levels, T-levels and Core Maths. For most the drive is likely to involve practical skills rather than algebra.

But Opposition parties dismissed the initiative as 'empty' - while Tories urged Mr Sunak to focus on tackling illegal immigration instead.

Nigel Farage swiped that 'quadratic equations' would not help fix 'broken Britain'.

Around eight million adults in England have numeracy skills expected of primary school children, according to Government figures.

Currently only around half of 16 to 19 year-olds study maths in some form. The problem is particularly acute for disadvantaged pupils, 60 per cent of whom do not have basic maths skills at age 16.

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood urged Mr Sunak to focus on tackling illegal immigration and the Channel crisis

Nigel Farage swiped that 'quadratic equations' would not help fix 'broken Britain'

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said the Prime Minister 'needs to show his working', as 'he cannot deliver this reheated, empty pledge without more maths teachers'.

She added: 'Yet the Government has missed their target for new maths teachers year after year, with existing teachers leaving in their droves.'

A Labour source said: 'In their desperation to ensure Sunak's speech doesn't happen after Keir's, No 10 have revealed they have nothing to offer the country except… double maths.

'As the health service falls to pieces after 12 years of Tory rule, criminals terrorise the streets, and working people worry how their wages will last the month, the country is entitled to ask: is this it?'

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood tweeted: 'As the Prime Minister turns his attention to maths teaching he should not forget his choice as most pressing priority was to stop illegal migration.

'Parliament needs to legislate urgently on small boats and public services.'

Mr Farage also waded in, saying: 'So Rishi Sunak's big idea to save the nation is maths until the age of 18! How will quadratic equations help to solve broken Britain?'

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## Michigan M-STEP scores show students improved, but scores still below pre-pandemic levels

The latest snapshot of how Michigan public schools are doing academically shows that while students have improved in the pandemic's wake, there is still recovery left to accomplish in the classroom.

State M-STEP assessment scores show Michigan students improved academically in 2023 from 2022 in reading and math in some grade levels — more so in math than in reading. But the percent of students statewide scoring proficient or higher in both key subjects largely hovered far below pre-pandemic levels.

The assessments were taken in the spring and are meant to give a snapshot of how Michigan students are faring academically. The scores are just one view: Schools also use other benchmark assessments throughout the years and additional methods of measuring how students are doing. Eleventh graders take the SAT in place of the M-STEP for math and reading and eighth graders take the PSAT for math and reading.

In third grade reading — one of the most crucial years for young learners to become readers — the statewide percent of proficient or higher scores slid in 2023 from 2022, from 41.6% scoring proficient or higher in 2022 to 40.9% in the 2023 test.

Michigan school Superintendent Michael Rice said in a news release that children in early grades were deeply affected by the coronavirus’ impact on schools.

“This past year’s third graders were perhaps the most adversely affected of any age cohort as they had pandemic-influenced school years during grades kindergarten through second grade, a challenge that was particularly noticeable in reading,” he said. “Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are pivotal in early literacy efforts, which may help explain the slight decline in the third grade ELA proficiency rate.”

Here’s what you should know about the scores:

## Reading scores improved for some, but not all grades

The news in reading is mixed, depending on grade level.

While third, sixth and seventh graders slid on the test, fourth, fifth and eleventh graders improved slightly. The percentage of eighth graders scoring proficient or higher stayed the same.

But all grades statewide remained below where they were in 2019, before the pandemic collided with education.

For example, in third grade reading, 45.1% of the state’s students scored proficient or higher in 2019, compared with 40.9% this year. Similarly, in eighth grade reading on the PSAT, 61.9% scored proficient or higher in 2019, compared with 59.7% this year.

While many districts are struggling to return to pre-pandemic achievement levels, it’s not the case for every school district. Some districts and charter schools did increase scores in certain grades from 2019. For example, 53.5% of Clawson Public Schools third grade students scored proficient or higher in reading this year, compared with 43.9% in 2019.

## Good news in math

In math, many grades saw good news: The percent of students proficient or higher statewide increased in third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade from 2022. Eleventh grade scores decreased from 30% proficient or higher to 29.9%.

As in reading, scores remained lower than pre-pandemic levels statewide. For example, in eighth grade math in 2019, 41.4% of students scored proficient or higher. In 2023, 36.3% scored proficient or higher.

## Differences in schools that remained remote longer

The Michigan Department of Education in its news release compared the percentages of students scoring proficient or higher in schools that remained remote for virtually the entire 2020-21 school year versus schools that resumed in-person classes earlier. The department’s release notes that these remote schools already tended to face systemic barriers to learning.

Proficiency percentages for schools that remained remote were lower overall pre-and post-pandemic. However, remote districts saw marked improvement in 2023 from 2022.

The data shows increases in 2023 from 2022 for remote districts in every subject and grade except for seventh grade math, where there was a small decrease.

In-person districts tended to have higher percentages of students scoring proficient or higher, but did see more proficiency rates slide in 2023 from 2022: In third, sixth and seventh grade reading, the percent scoring proficient or higher decreased. Scores in math in every grade improved.

## Detroit Public Schools gained some momentum

Detroit Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has been touting improvement in periodic benchmark assessments for the past month. Now, Vitti can include improvement on state assessments, including some reading scores improving past pre-pandemic levels.

In third grade reading, 12.4% of Detroit students scored proficient or higher, compared with 11.9% in 2019 and 9% in 2022. Fourth graders jumped from 12.7% in 2019 to 14.8% this year. Fifth grade reading scores remain below pre-pandemic levels, but jumped up a bit from last year.

In math, scores remain below pre-pandemic levels in all but fourth and sixth grade, but improved since last year in third, fourth, fifth and seventh grade.

## Find Michigan M-STEP results by district

Recovery is not over.

With gradual improvements made in this year's scores, Rice called the past school year "the most stable" of the last four in the Education Department’s news release.

This year's budget included $150 million for tutoring, as well as funding for literacy efforts across the state and $94.4 million in dedicated literacy funding for Detroit Public Schools as a part of the state's settlement in the literacy lawsuit brought by students in 2016 who said they were deprived their right to literacy in school.

Pamela Pugh, president of the Michigan State Board of Education, wrote in a release that educators are "working hard" to surface from the pandemic.

"We need to continue to invest in our schools and educators and provide the supports needed to help our kids continue to grow academically, socially, and personally," she wrote.

Contact Lily Altavena: [email protected]

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## Integrated math 3

Welcome to integrated math 3, unit 1: polynomial arithmetic, unit 2: polynomial factorization, unit 3: polynomial division, unit 4: polynomial graphs, unit 5: logarithms, unit 6: transformations of functions, unit 7: equations, unit 8: trigonometry, unit 9: modeling, unit 10: study design, unit 11: binomial probability, unit 12: normal distributions, unit 13: rational functions.

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Free Math Worksheets — Over 100k free practice problems on Khan Academy Looking for free math worksheets? You've found something even better! That's because Khan Academy has over 100,000 free practice questions. And they're even better than traditional math worksheets - more instantaneous, more interactive, and more fun!

Before the pandemic, about 800 students per semester were placed into that class, the equivalent of ninth grade math. By 2021, it swelled to nearly 1,400. "It's not just that they're ...

A deep dive into how we structure content at Sparx Maths. Over the last 10 years, the Sparx content design team have been creating and refining a quality bank of nearly 50,000 questions. Read more about how this fantastic content is structured to help support students and teachers. ... November 10, 2022. Homework hand-in days.

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Module 1: Place value, rounding, and algorithms for addition and subtraction. Module 2: Unit conversions and problem solving with metric measurement. Module 3: Multi-digit multiplication and division. Module 4: Angle measure and plane figures. Module 5: Fraction equivalence, ordering, and operations.

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