The need to catalyze change in high school mathematics

  • February 25, 2019

    The Need to Catalyze Change in High School Mathematics

    Phi Delta Kappan

    Robert Q. Berry III and Matthew R. Larson

    High school mathematics is not working for far too many students in the United States. Although the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has shown significant and long-term positive trends in mathematics learning at the elementary and middle levels, high school NAEP scores have remained essentially flat for decades (National Center for Education Statistics, 2015, 2016).

    In addition, the Program for International Student Assessment shows that U.S. high school students trail their international peers in mathematical literacy, defined as the “capacity to formulate, employ, and interpret mathematics in a variety of contexts . . . to describe, explain, and predict phenomena” (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2016, p. 28).

    Given these results, it is not surprising that young adults in the United States lack not only the quantitative and problem-solving skills necessary for success in the workplace and postsecondary education but also the numeracy and problem-solving skills necessary for “meaningful participation in our democratic institutions” (Goodman, Sands, & Coley, 2015, p. 5).

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