Effective Strategies for Teaching Math to Adults

Authored by: Lynda Ginsburg

Handbook of Family Literacy

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415884570
eBook ISBN: 9780203841495
Adobe ISBN: 9781136899126

10.4324/9780203841495.ch13

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Abstract

Interest in adults’ and children’s mathematics learning is growing at both national and international levels. America’s ability to compete in the current global market as well as its future positioning is perceived to hinge on the population’s skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The fact that few people are well prepared to enter these fields and few choose to enter them has become a concern of the business community, state and federal departments of education, and even the president of the United States. Indeed, President Obama stated in his January 25, 2011, State of the Union Address,

Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations.

Recent national and international assessments of children’s and adults’ numeracy skills have bolstered the President’s concerns. Every recent assessment indicates a profound need for improved performance with the prerequisite mathematical content required for successful functioning in school and at any and all levels of society, let alone as preparation for STEM careers. For example:

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), often called The Nation’s Report Card, is given across the country to children in fourth and eighth grades. The 2009 assessment found that only 39% of fourth grade students performed at or above proficient in mathematics and only 34% of eighth grade students performed at or above proficient in mathematics. The assessment also confirmed continuing score gaps between white and black students and between white and Hispanic students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009).

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) examined the performance of 15-year-old students in mathematics literacy, the applied mathematics skills needed to function well. In the 2009 assessment, 23% of U.S. students scored below level 2 in mathematics literacy and 27% scored at or above level 4 in a 6 level performance scheme. The U. S, average score, at 487, was lower than the OECD average score of 496 and among the 33 other OECD countries, 17 countries had higher average scores than the United States.

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