There should be four years of math and English in every high school in the
I noticed when I came to BYU not fifteen years ago that the Utah students
generally speaking felt that college was harder and required more of them than
students from elsewhere. I had the rare experience of having BYU be a little
easier than my last year of high school. My high school had many students head
to top universities.
GiuseppeG,I speak to math teachers everyday. There are four of them
that teach down the hall from me. I have talked to them about the common core
multiple times. They have two concerns and neither one is directly related to
the common core. The first is we continue to advance students without them
having gained basic skills and at the point the reach high school they are
unable to do the math expected of them because they lack the basic skills. The
second is they want the state to pick a curriculum and stick with it. They
don't care if it is common core or something else just want to quit
changing every few years.Requiring an extra year of math is foolish.
In terms of the legislature, I take one of my two personal days and go the
state legislature every year to talk to legislators. I regularly email my state
legislators about my concerns, I attend almost every school board meeting in my
local district.So in terms of being part of the problem or part of
the solution I am very comfortable with what I have done and continue to do.
Why do we insist in forcing every kid to prepare for college? Isn't this
America, where choice and freedom are paramount?The reality is, many kids
don't, and shouldn't, go to college. Many of them should go to trade
school, because as much as we need scientists and engineers, we need a LOT more
plumbers and HVAC technicians.4 years of math to graduate is
ridiculous, when you consider how hard it already is to get every kid to pass
three years of math.And please, let's get rid of the common
core. It's an absolute mess, when the kids that have gone through it hit
college in the next two years, we are going to see how we wasted our time and
money on that crack pot idea. The people that wrote the books are finding they
can't even get through the course in a year, and everything is terribly
The motivation to learn has to start long before secondary school; in primary
and middle schools. If students are passed on to the next grade year after year
(even if they don't understand math) till they get to high school, they
aren't going to pass (or understand) high school math either. How can they
without any foundation. The joy of learning should happen in early childhood, at
the parents' knees. Let's quit blaming teachers for
everything that's wrong in the world.
What about the home's role in successfully passing math. The teachers I
know are frustrated, but dedicated and concerned about these very issues.
I'm guessing there may be some less-than-competent teachers, but to give
equal time, let's examine the family's and child's own motivation
level.From what I've seen, if a student doesn't want to
learn, he won't, no matter how many programs, requirements, or incentives
we throw at them. We can change the curriculum as many times as we want, but if
the parents don't somehow get involved or set expectations, it won't
happen. If the home is dysfunctional, it's less likely the student will be
able to learn. You don't need a scientific study to understand that.
To "Erika" there are options if your school does not have enough math
classes for your child. There is the online High School, which may allow her to
take a more advanced math class. A better option is to find a college that has
an online calculus class and enroll her in that. She can get college credit and
HS credit at the same time.
Yo Fred44, Go talk to high school math teachers and see if they
agree that 1) this 4 yr mandatory math proposal and 2) common core requirements
will benefit our kids.I suspect you'll get mostly disagreement.
Then take that information and lobby hard against any more of this
ridiculousness to the State Legislature and the State Board of Education. Then
YOU too can become part of the solution instead of the problem.
As a parent, I have been disappointed in the changes resulting from Common Core
in the math arena. My oldest child ran out of math classes to take after her
junior year in high school, so she settled on statistics when she'd rather
be doing more calculus.I suppose the Common Core has some merit,
since most kids don't know what kinds of careers they'll pursue yet,
let alone what type of maths to pursue along those lines. Business math is still
a completely different animal, and most kids will end up having to make payments
on an amortization schedule at some point, regardless of career.
re: RedShirt"Until getting a degree in Education is like getting
into Law School or better yet Med School, they will never be paid well because
there are too many teachers trying to get the same job."You
forgot to add (pun intended?) getting into an MBA program? Or did you?
@ toosmartforyou"Of course they need more math. When a teenage
employee can't figure how much sales tax should be collected on a $1.79
loaf of bread and how much change to give you back from a $5 bill when you buy
the bread and include sales tax, because of a power failure and the automatic
cash register isn't functional, then yes, we need more math."Agreed. But, why when there is an app for that? ROFL!?
I disagree that it's just about mastery. You don't master something
and then never do it, but that's exactly what's happening, even to
decent students of math, when they take math and then skip a couple years to
play around their last years in High School. Showing you are competent at
something in the Freshman year says nothing about competency in the Senior. Once
the general math credits are out of the way in College then, fine, if your major
doesn't require it, then ditch math, but don't do it until you get
through those require courses.Otherwise you're setting up kids
to fail at a much more expensive and consequential level. This is why many young
college students drop out. Personally I believe math helps focus the mind and is
a valuable skill to maintain throughout adult life... I meet a single mom, or a
druggie dude who's a loser in his mom's basement, and more often than
not, they have never tried a day's worth of Calculus and can't tell me
a thing about the Unit Circle, or Fast Fourier Transforms... Math sets you up
The problem isn't the number of years students have math in high school,
it's the quality of the math instruction they are being given. Utah's
state office of education has an infatuation with constructivist math. It's
been proven a failure and parents hate it because the curriculum prevents them
from helping their children with their math homework. What Utah needs is to
jettison Common Core math, and adopt our old standards from 2007 which would get
more students through algebra by 8th grade, and calculus by 12th. Or we adopt
CA's or MA's excellent math standards prior to Common Core.
Utah's adoption of Common Core has been a disaster. Dr. David Wright in
BYU's math department has documented that. We are headed for some serious
problems in STEM fields. We don't need to force a 4th year of high school
math on all students. We just need solid years of preparation with real
curricular materials and direct instruction which has proven to be far better
for students than constructivism.
Einstein couldn't teach with today's set up.--Excessive test
preparations, and lack of discipline support, are hindering our students.And yes! Too many students passing without earning the grades.
Teachers using better math instruction techniques, plus a common curriculum core
plus requiring all kids to do math like we require all kids to read equals a
better future for all of us and our children!
Adding another year of math is not the answer. What is needed is to raise the
standard. Let the HS kids only take 3 years of math, but require that for
graduation they must have passed Trigonometry. Why Trig you ask? Well, even
little Johnny when he is married and earning $30,000/yr may need to build a
shed. If he has some understanding of trig, he can at lest figure out how to
build a decent roof.To "toosmartforyou" you have some good
ideas, but many have been tried and don't work. Just paying teachers more
won't work. Until getting a degree in Education is like getting into Law
School or better yet Med School, they will never be paid well because there are
too many teachers trying to get the same job.How do you plan on
legislating that parents care or help their children in school?
Carolyn,I often disagree with you, but you hit a home run on this
one. Mastery is the key. If students have not mastered the necessary skills
they need remediation until they do. You are also right on when you say that a
teacher cannot move 15 students in a class forward while remediating 15 other
students at the same time.
It really isn't about having 4 years of classes - it is about competency.
If students were required to master the skills at each level, things would
change dramatically. Passing students who are not demonstrating mastery is the
norm in many, if not most schools. This happens when a C or D grade is given
and the student is passed on to the next level without the requisite skills and
the teachers are then highly challenged to help. Most schools and teachers
simply aren't equipped to remediate half the class while they try to teach
the other half the course material. It is VERY challenging and quite impossible
in most settings with most teachers.I believe the promoting of
students without mastery of prerequisite skills is the major reason our math
education is largely a failure in Utah.We need a straight-up skills
assessment students must pass before being admitted to the next math class.
This would give students and parents something clear to shoot for. The
assessment should be given within 30 days of the beginning of the school year in
a neutral environment, not in the prior year's math class by the previous
@toosmartforyouFarmington, UT:Some added suggestions:* Eliminate standardized testing. What an expense that is.* Three
schools sharing one football field.* Students feed themselves.*
Students pay fifty cents a day to ride the bus.* Less schooling would be
better than more school. Kids need independence to develop curiousity, and
creativity.* more parent volunteers.
The worst thing you could do for your kid is let them opt out of math their last
couple years of High School -- IF -- you intend your kid to go to college. They MUST be conversant with mathematics even if it's at a lower
level, or they face a steep climb once they get to college. I tutored a guy who
fell out of math and wanted a simple community college degree in medical
equipment handling or something like that. He'd failed all his attempts to
take the most remedial math class these tradeschools offered Nine TIMES! He did
math at about a fourth grade level and could only hold a job at places like
Burger King, as a result. We spent about 15 extra hours a week
working to pass his math class. He was ecstatic that I brought his grade up to a
B, after about 5 weeks of concerted effort. Many folks don't get as lucky
as him, because they simply can't spend that much time on it, and
they're so lost they can't even do the basics. High School
is a free time, don't waste it.
toosmartforyou,I have read many of your posts. Most are critical of
teachers and always critical of teachers unions. Why not get off the sideline
and run for school board and then see if your ideas will work. I think you have
some good ideas, some however I think are probably not practical or legal. But
again anyone can come on a message board and criticize, why not run for your
local school board? Its real easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize, it
is much tougher when you are the one responsible.
More Reading, Writing and Arithmetic should be required, rather than more
Football, Basketball and Hockey.
I almost agree with abolish public education where governemnt and propaganda are
too powerful in the hands of politicians to allow them to control how much
education a student needs to be a public dependent. This article is saying
education has become too expensive and they want to cut costs and knowledge by
defunding quality education.Education has become an industrial
government asset to profiteer from govnerment handouts and children are pawns to
expand control. Education and training are too expensive in the business world
where it eats into their profits and produces nothing. People wanted
their government run like a business so CEO's turned government into
business to expand itself with stockholders and share holders accruing power as
it expands. Its not about the good of the people, this is not what education is
or means.Education it to provide quality education in knowledge for
children to discover the unknown with knowledge of the past in science, math,
arts, and physical skills. Language skills have become too expensive and they
have stopped proving children with the ability to read, write, and comprehend a
language. There is no such thing as too much education, just too much corporate
There is a disconnect between our legislator's/USOE and the Colleges,
especially Jr Colleges in Utah. The Jr Colleges in the state do not want to let
High School teachers with masters degrees teach Concurrent Enrollment. If kids
take and get a semesters worth of credit for a year long class in High School,
then they will be at college less time and take fewer classes. This makes it so
the students don't attend college as long and therefore aren't paying
the college more money. The heads of departments grant the approval of
Concurrent Enrollment applications. They know if granted their staffing at the
college level goes down, so they just reject the Concurrent Enrollment.The way Math is taught is not conducive to learning procedures, processes, and
problem solving. (BTW this is why math is valuable). I teach a Senior class
that starts with ACT Prep and then moves into subject matter taught in 1010 and
1050 classes to prepare them for success in college. Students averaged a 2.6
point gain on the math portion of ACT. Some gained 5 points. Yet, the state
doesn't approve because it isn't Secondary Ed III. Call it helping
students learn 101!
Do people use math in everyday life? Yes. Do students need 12 years of math? By
all means Yes!!
Fred44I have posted numerous times suggestions for improving
education. Here are a few examples:1- Year round school. Less buildings
and installing and running air conditioning is cheaper than new buildings.2- Make teaching a true profession. Increase teacher salaries by 25 - 33% and
have teachers work 12 months of he year, with two weeks vacation like everybody
else, not 3 months.3- Get rid of teacher unions and organizations that
constantly "want more money" but refuse "education reform."
It's time to change the education model.I helped my children
through school as I ought to have done.4- Expect students (and parents) to
be involved with learning. If a student needs to be baby sat, then they
shouldn't progress to the next grade. High school students should have a
heavy curriculum with solid subjects, not "play time for those with
senioritis."5- Reward teachers and schools who improve performance;
weed out those who lag behind and don't care if they truly teach and
inspire learning or not.6- Pare back extracurricular activities a bit.
Don't eliminate them, but don't worship them, either.7-
Appreciate what you have and quit screaming how little Utah spends on education.
Every personal income tax penny goes to education---100%.
4 years of high school mouth = "raising the bar"
I think we've got it backwards. We assume that taking 4 years of math
equals a certain level of skill, which is not necessarily the case. What we
should do is decide how much an ACT score of let's say 25 is worth to us,
and then how much each additional point is worth and pay a fraction of that to
the student who achieves it instead of investing the money into the schools. If
the students feel the immediate tangible value of his high ACT score he will
find a way to learn math - either by hiring the right tutor, going to the right
school, or but simply finding the right kind of online resource - but let him
decide. When you focus on the process, you get the process, but when you focus
on the results you get the results.
A few observations:Let me fill in the blank with one possible
answer: Students need to learn math so that they can ____THINK____.High school math classes don't teach about sales tax and making change.
That's taught much earlier than high school.I have the
impression that folks who think math can't be used in most careers or most
lives didn't really understand math.I have the impression that
it's very important to do well in math classes, not just pass them. A
student that learns math at a B or C grade level basically didn't learn it
and won't be able to use it for much.
DN Subscriber 2 and toosmartforyou,I am hoping with your vast of the
problems with our public school system in Utah that you are on your local school
board. I would hate to think that your just people who criticize the school
system without doing something to make it better. You are either part of the
problem or part of the solution. Matter of fact I have a better idea, maybe you
should become teachers and improve our pathetic school system rather than simply
Debating what another person's child should or shouldn't be learning
is an affront to human dignity and freedom. I reject the entire premise of the
discussion. Public education should be abolished, and these politicians should
fulfill their duty to defend liberty rather than meddle in our lives.
Public education needs radical reform. Maybe revolution. Kids are wasting their
time and hard earned taxpayer money. Some very drastic changes need to take
place. Cutting out four years of high school math would be a good start.
Here's a simple math equation. Four years times times one hour of lecture
plus two hours of study times millions of kids who will never use high school
level math in their careers = many, many wasted hours and taxdollars.
Of course they need more math. When a teenage employee can't figure how
much sales tax should be collected on a $1.79 loaf of bread and how much change
to give you back from a $5 bill when you buy the bread and include sales tax,
because of a power failure and the automatic cash register isn't
functional, then yes, we need more math.Believe it or not, some jobs
depend upon it. A former employer told me "Do you know how many people
bother to take trig or even remember thing one about it?" He was pleased I
knew it, plus I could write a detailed letter representing engineered solutions
to a problem a customer was experiencing. That is real life. Factory technical
experts need some education that is useful and math is right at the top.Of course I guess you could always work in fast food and demand $15 an
hour......Good luck with that.......
@DN Subscriber 2:"and the government will do the math for
them"?How can that be, when they can't balance a budget?
Why waste the time? People can collect welfare and the government will do the
math for them to tell them how much they will get. Or the cash register at the
Burger Joint will tell them how much change to give out.Besides, all
the high paying engineer and scientific jobs are fleeing to other countries,
where foreign secondary schools are almost all teaching their students more than
what our kids learn. And, their colleges teach all the math and science they
need. (But, the don't have the advantages of environmental studies,
Latvian Lesbian Literature classes, or similar majors that our colleges thrive
on.)The worst part is, if our kids did get all the high level math
courses, them might end up getting really high paid jobs, and contribute to
"income inequality" and oppression of the lower classes, which would
require them to be taxed at much higher rates to help "pay their fair
share" to the less fortunate (or studious) voters.But, if the
students really do need all those math courses, they will be offered as part of
the remedial classes offered by colleges to make up for the shortcomings of our
failing secondary school system.
Utah (and the U.S. in general) students need something to help with math,
science and English test scores. But, it might be nice to test a plan first, in
different types of schools, to see if it really makes a difference.Another idea would be to let High School students test out of courses with
competency exams. Then, those that don't need specific courses would be
able to quickly move on and students would have an incentive to get competent in
a subject during the summer months.
Of course they don't need it. They don't need ANYTHING taught in high
school. People can live.... and have done for thousands of years... with very
little understanding if not complete ignorance of what is taught in high school.
So it's easy to argue they don't need it. The questions should be...
do they need it so that they can________________. Fill in the blank, if our
society could just really decide what should go in that blank we'd be able
to answer that question. I think it varies too much though to require 4 years
of math. But for that matter, I think it varies too much to require 4 years of
anything in high school.
They do not need it in life. Our college math mandates should be changed.