Why U.S.' Outdated Approach to Teaching High School Math is Adding Up to an Epidemic of Math Anxiety and Poor Test Results
NEW YORK, Aug. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Elie Venezky, New York math and writing tutor to the Manhattan and Brooklyn prep school elite is on intimate terms with the monster known as math anxiety. It walks in with new enrollees from grade school through high school at the NYC tutoring center he founded, Prestige Prep. See www.prestigeprep.com for more on the center.
"The way math is taught in the USA kills students' ability to understand and hamstrings them on future standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, ISEE, SHSAT, and SSAT," says Venezky.
Also fueling the math monster is parent anxiety. Between the confusion over the controversial Common Core curriculum, the competition for near-perfect SAT scores, and the staggering expense of a child's education, it's no wonder parents are invested in math success.
Venezky has uncovered three core issues to math pedagogy that when unraveled, reveal the heart of America's math problem, and its solution.
"First, students are rarely taught how different mathematical topics are connected," says Venezky. "This corrupts their understanding and hampers their ability to solve complex questions."
Venezky continues, "Second, when a new topic is introduced, students are given the method and the answers upfront. This trains kids to NOT stretch their own cognitive muscles, but instead rely on being walked through every step. Not a great preparation for life, either!
"Third, because students only take tests with questions they've already seen, they don't learn to apply their knowledge to new types of questions. This negatively affects their scores on exams designed to test application skills: the SAT, ACT, ISEE, etc."
In December 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), show U.S. teenagers slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009. Last May, Bloomberg News reported that only 75 percent of U.S. high school seniors failed to show math proficiency, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, released by the Education Department.
"At Prestige Prep, we've adopted a teaching method similar to that used in Japan," says Venezky. "It gets our NY tutoring students discussing math and figuring out its properties and applications on their own - with subtle guidance from our tutors, of course. This way, math becomes a challenge with space for innovation and discussion instead of boring rote memorization."
SOURCE Prestige Prep