Parents are asking why their kids are getting such poor grades in their school math and reading programs, and the answer may be simple: They’re just not reading well enough.
The numbers show the national math and science achievement gaps are widening in many states, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education.
The U.E. Department for Education reports that since 2011, there have been more than 3.5 million students in the country who have been deemed as low-performing in their reading and math programs.
In all, about 3.6 million students nationwide are considered to be in low-performance reading or math.
Those figures are consistent with what we’ve seen over the last several years, says Michael Kiser, associate director of education and curriculum development for the National Center for Education Statistics.
“There are a lot of reasons why students are not doing as well as they could be in the classroom,” Kiser says.
“There’s a lot that can go wrong in that classroom, so it’s just not surprising that there’s a growing number of kids who aren’t performing at the level they should be performing.”
A major reason is the fact that students are still learning about the history of math and the mathematics that came before.
“The reason that they’re not reading is because the books are written before math and math books,” Kizer says.
And the history books that they do read are written in the past.
“And that’s the main reason that students aren’t reading,” Kier says.
The study also found that the proportion of students who were at the bottom of their grade ranges for their math skills has increased in states where the numbers are higher.
That means that students who are struggling in math often have trouble keeping up with their reading progress, Kiser said.
“A lot of kids don’t really understand math.
They’re not really taking math as seriously as they should,” Kistner says.
That’s a huge problem for students who don’t have a math teacher who is able to explain how to use the math in the right way.
In some states, Kier said, schools have a curriculum for math but have not taught math well enough to make the students proficient.
“They’ve kind of been left behind,” Kisek says.
For students in those states, the numbers get worse because the teachers are not trained to teach the math that students need to learn.
The report found that in the most popular schools in the U, the percentage of students in their grade range who were in the bottom fifth of their reading or mathematics performance for math skills was 25.4 percent.
In contrast, the bottom 50 percent of the students had a reading performance in the top fifth of the reading performance range of 28.3 percent.
And in some states with large numbers of high-performing schools, like Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma, the proportion in the lowest fifth of performance was even higher: 47.6 percent.
In most states, schools in those areas are struggling to provide students with the tools to learn how to read, write and solve problems, Kizer said.
The data from these states is just a snapshot of the way schools are teaching math, Kistener said.
Schools have a lot more to do to keep their students motivated and engaged.
In addition, Kiseks is concerned that the decline in math scores may have a negative impact on the ability of parents to educate their children.
“Parents are concerned that if they can’t afford to send their kids to school in these states, they won’t be able to provide for their kids and they’ll end up having to choose between sending their kids away or not sending them to school,” Kizek says.
“I’m not saying that they don’t want to send kids to schools that have the highest test scores, but if we have to choose where to send our kids, that’s a big one.”
Kiser said the Department for Educators has already started to address this problem with a new curriculum that will give students more time to do math, but it’s unclear how many students will actually see the changes in time.
The new curriculum is based on the work of Harvard math teacher Scott Ransom, who has studied how to create math curricula in the last 20 years.
Ransom says he sees a need for more math teachers in the United States because the curriculum needs to be developed based on science and math.
“It’s not enough to say, ‘We’ve got a bunch of science and mathematics and we’re going to put that together,'” Ransom says.
“You’ve got to make sure you understand the difference between science and biology, and math and English.”
It is not clear what impact this new curriculum will have on the reading and mathematics achievement of students, but Kiser and Kisekes say it’s critical that educators take action now.
“We need to be really focused on this, because if we don’t, we’re not going to get ahead of this,”