In working with students, parents and IEP teams, I find that there is an assumption that math at some point, possibly beyond arithmetic, is simply a science fiction movie that is minimally related to real life. I hear from students as well as adults, statements like, “algebra, when are we ever going to use it?” My response is, ALL THE TIME!
The math we often present in school is a “mathy” version of the math we encounter in life. For example, the top photo below shows a pizza menu and a situation that is realistic. The calculator screen shot below the menu shows how we likely would solve the problem using a calculator on our phone.
Below is the same type of problem, but solved using “mathy” math. How many of us (besides me) are doing this at the pizzeria?
The point is, we engage in algebra but maybe do not use all the symbols and vocabulary of algebra, e.g. when we typed in 2.25 repeatedly in our calculator, we were working with the math term “slope.”
This has implications for secondary students whose post-secondary plans do not include college. If the math class is teaching “mathy” math but you want your student to learn math as it is used in real life, then an alternative math course is needed. This could be addressed through the IEP.
Unprepared College Freshmen Could Be The Cost Of High Schools
Huffington Post Education has a story about states considering action to hold school districts accountable for their graduates having to take remedial courses upon entering college.
Of course there are many factors that affect a student’s performance in college but high schools can do more to prepare students for post-secondary education or training. The current set of evaluation and accountability measures are actually counterproductive for preparing students for subsequent education and training. SAT scores, graduation rates, standardized testing and grades in general do not measure independent learner skills. Such skills are essential in a post-secondary setting that offers far less support provided in high schools.
This could have a major and very positive impact on students with disabilities. In lieu of the current approach of helping a student with special needs pass his or her courses to get a diploma the focus would be on training a student to be a more independent learner with competence in study skills such as maintaining and using a notebook.