algebrahttp://www.wnyc.org/tags/algebraen-usMon, 19 Jan 2015 00:00:00 -0500600cleanLearning Algebra from Cartoons
http://www.wnyc.org/story/larry-gonick/<p>Master cartoonist and former Harvard instructor <a class="guestlink" href="/people/r/?n=Larry+Gonick">Larry Gonick</a> talks about the latest installment of his <em>New York Times</em> bestselling Cartoon Guide Series, <span class="book"><a title="buy this book at Amazon" target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062202693/wnycorg-20/">The Cartoon Guide to Algebra</a></span>. This illustrated guide is designed to help students understand and learn the core mathematical course taught in American schools, using engaging graphics and lively humor.</p>
Mon, 19 Jan 2015 00:00:00 -0500http://www.wnyc.org/story/larry-gonick/algebracartoonslifemathLearning Algebra from Cartoons
16:20Master cartoonist and former Harvard instructor Larry Gonick talks about the latest installment of his New York Times bestselling Cartoon Guide Series, The Cartoon Guide to Algebra. This illustrated guide is designed to help students understand and learn the core mathematical course taught in American schools, using engaging graphics and lively humor.Is Algebra Really Necessary?
http://www.wnyc.org/story/314667-what-it-about-algebra/<p>Writer Nicholson Baker asks a simple question in next month's issue of <a href="http://harpers.org/archive/2013/09/wrong-answer/" target="_blank">Harper's</a> Magazine: “Why, if math is so great and timeless and beautiful, do millions of people hate it so much?”</p> <p>During an interview with WNYC's Leonard Lopate last week, Baker discussed his article, "Wrong Answer: The Case Against Algebra II." He explains how the "great art" was founded in Baghdad in the 1500, and why it became part of the high school curriculum. A study found students who take Algebra II have higher incomes.</p>
<p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src="http://www.wnyc.org/widgets/ondemand_player/#file=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wnyc.org%2Faudio%2Fxspf%2F313834%2F;containerClass=wnyc" width="474"></iframe></p>
<p><img style="float: left; margin: 5px;" src="http://www.wnyc.org/i/raw/photologue/photos/MAIN_Nicholson%20Baker.jpg" alt="" width="250" height="350">But Nicholson argued that this correlation that has more to do with the degrees those students pursue in college, and that this higher level of algebra it isn't for everyone. He says high schools "should confront that" because their aim isn't to make everyone good at the same thing, but to "lodge a few life enriching nuggets and knowledge" into students' heads.</p>
<p>"There are lots of things you can do in life that don't use math," he said. </p>
<p>Do you agree with his provocative statement? Or do you side with those who say math is increasingly important in the 21st century economy? Listen to the segment by clicking the link above.</p>
<p>And check out WNYC's 2009 series on a remedial class at LaGuardia Community College, where students debated this same topic.</p>
<p>Part 1: <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2009/oct/05/adding-it-up-part-1-the-hurdle-of-remedial-math-at-a-community-college/" target="_blank">The Hurdle of Remedial Math at a Community College</a></p>
<p>Part 2: <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2009/oct/30/adding-it-up-part-2-how-to-keep-an-a/" target="_blank">How to Keep an A</a></p>
<p>Part 3: <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2009/dec/09/adding-it-up-part-3-teaching-math-means-breaking-it-down/" target="_blank">Teaching Math Means Breaking it Down</a></p>
<p>Part 4: <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2009/dec/17/adding-it-up-part-4-how-they-scored/" target="_blank">How They Scored</a> and <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2009/dec/17/adding-it-up-part-4-the-real-test-for-community-colleges/" target="_blank">The Real Test for Community Colleges</a></p>
Mon, 26 Aug 2013 17:07:10 -0400http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/schoolbook/2013/aug/26/what-it-about-algebra/algebraeducationleonard_lopatelocal_newsWriter Nicholson Baker asks a simple question in next month's issue of Harper's Magazine: “Why, if math is so great and timeless and beautiful, do millions of people hate it so much?”Beth FertigDo We Really Need to Learn Algebra?
http://www.wnyc.org/story/313834-do-we-really-need-need-algebra/<p><a class="guestlink" href="/people/r/?n=Nicholson+Baker">Nicholson Baker</a> makes a case against requiring algebra 2 and asks “why, if math is so great and timeless and beautiful, do millions of people hate it so much?”</p>
<p>During his conversation with Leonard brought up a 2002 survey that found a very high correlation between people who took and succeeded algebra 2 and those who made money and were successful later in life. Baker said, “It isn’t more than a statistical correlation, but people pounced on this and said, my god! Algebra 2! It’s the mystic door! If we force every child go through this door successfully, if we make them do it and we make them succeed, then they’ll all be above average and the world will be a better place.” But he argues, that making it a requirement for everyone for college admission is “not just a waste of time but a real source of suffering for many people.” Baker noted that it shouldn't be removed entirely from the high school curriculum, but that it shouldn't be required for every student, especially for otherwise good students who are struggling to pass it. "I think kids should be compelled to take some algebra...so you get a sense of what's out there and whether you have a head for it," he said.</p>
<p>Many callers and commenters defended algebra, saying it teaches problem-solving and intellectual discipline, but a number of people agree with Baker that not every student should be forced to take algebra 2 if they're struggling to pass it.</p>
<p>Nicholson Baker's article “<a href="http://harpers.org/archive/2013/09/wrong-answer/" target="_blank">Wrong Answer</a>” is in the September 2013 issue of <em>Harper’s Magazine</em>.</p>
Thu, 22 Aug 2013 00:00:00 -0400http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2013/aug/22/do-we-really-need-need-algebra/algebraeducationlifemathDo We Really Need to Learn Algebra?
21:45Nicholson Baker makes a case against requiring algebra 2 and asks “why, if math is so great and timeless and beautiful, do millions of people hate it so much?”
During his conversation with Leonard brought up a 2002 survey that found a very high correlation between people who took and succeeded algebra 2 and those who made money and were successful later in life. Baker said, “It isn’t more than a statistical correlation, but people pounced on this and said, my god! Algebra 2! It’s the mystic door! If we force every child go through this door successfully, if we make them do it and we make them succeed, then they’ll all be above average and the world will be a better place.” But he argues, that making it a requirement for everyone for college admission is “not just a waste of time but a real source of suffering for many people.” Baker noted that it shouldn't be removed entirely from the high school curriculum, but that it shouldn't be required for every student, especially for otherwise good students who are struggling to pass it. "I think kids should be compelled to take some algebra...so you get a sense of what's out there and whether you have a head for it," he said.
Many callers and commenters defended algebra, saying it teaches problem-solving and intellectual discipline, but a number of people agree with Baker that not every student should be forced to take algebra 2 if they're struggling to pass it.
Nicholson Baker's article “Wrong Answer” is in the September 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine.Before Dropping Algebra, Fix Math Education
http://www.wnyc.org/story/302262-before-dropping-algebra-fix-math-education/<p><em>A recent opinion essay in The New York Times by Andrew Hacker, asking the question "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all">Is Algebra Necessary?"</a>, drew hundreds of comments. Some of SchoolBook's contributors went further and have written their own essays in response. What's your opinion? Respond to our query below. (We would especially love to hear from students or recent graduates.)</em></p>
<p>As a parent with three children rising through New York City public schools, I’m sympathetic to the argument by the Queens College professor Andrew Hacker that "elite" colleges often saddle students with large debts for little discernible benefit in salaries or social status over their less-prestigious brethren. </p>
<div class="w190 right"><img src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/01/09/education/sb-leveym/sb-leveym-articleInline.jpg" alt="DESCRIPTION"><span class="credit">Lorraine Levey</span> <span class="caption">Matthew Levey</span></div>
<p>Whether or not my kids earn 3.8 GPAs and score 2,200 on their SATs, Dr. Hacker’s claim that they can <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/08/the-debt-crisis-at-american-colleges/243777/">obtain an excellent college education for less than $200,000</a> resonates.</p>
<p>Regardless of where my children attend college, I know they will need a well-rounded preparation in their primary and secondary schools. They might become doctors or engineers, poets or professors. But wherever life leads them, they’ll need to be able to appreciate Shakespeare, understand standard deviation, and explain the laws governing the conservation of energy. </p>
<p>Thus I was taken aback by Dr. Hacker’s recent <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all">essay in The New York Times</a> asserting that algebra is meaningless and should be dropped in favor of more practical math. </p>
<p>There are many ways to succeed in college, but none of them require algebra? It was important for Andrew Hacker in the late 1940s and when I attended junior high in the late 1970s, but now my son doesn’t need it? He’ll just look up the answer on the Internet? </p>
<p>If my child was accepted at Yale, a friend once assured me, I would not turn it down and I’d find a way to pay for it. But whether he attends a “top 25” school or a community college, he will have to work, participate in the life of his community, and understand complex questions like the healthcare and defense dilemmas we’re intent on burdening him with. </p>
<p>To meet these challenges he’ll need a solid grounding in the critical theories under-girding our world, including the abstractions one learns in algebra.</p>
<p>Using set theory, Sesame Street offers a <a href="http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/01/29/multimedia/1247466793660/sesame-street-1-2-3-count-with-me.html">brilliant example of why abstraction matters</a>. After repeating the word “fish” six times to take a room service order from a group of penguins, the hapless hotel clerk learns he can just say “six fish” and it means the same thing. </p>
<p>“Does it work on other stuff?” he asks. “Say cinnamon rolls, cream pies and spark plugs?” </p>
<p>This leap, the ability to appropriately generalize from a specific example, is at the core of a high quality education, be it in literature, art, history or math. </p>
<p>But to generalize well, children need a solid grounding in the facts. In the case of math, this means both strong computational fluency and a good understanding of the underlying critical theories. Some students will gain this insight faster; others will have to work harder. Either way, I’m not willing to let my children’s schools off the hook for teaching this effectively.</p>
<p>Dr. Hacker is certainly correct when he observes we do a mediocre job teaching math; over the last decade in New York City our children have shown modest progress on national math tests like the NAEP. But as a parent and taxpayer, I’m disappointed that he thinks the solution is to stop teaching foundational math like algebra. </p>
<p>Clearly the first step is to improve instruction. The University of California-Berkley professor <a href="http://math.berkeley.edu/~wu/">Hung-Hsi Wu</a> has long criticized the “textbook standard math” that we use in New York City (and across most of the U.S.). </p>
<p>Dr. Wu’s 30-year analysis shows that we teach math “as a jumbled collection of tasks."</p>
<p>"It would be reasonable,” he says “to attribute a good deal of students' non-learning of mathematics to their being fed such jumbled information all the way from kindergarten to grade 12.” </p>
<p>Like many educators, Dr. Wu hopes the Common Core will lead to a more coherent approach to math instruction, but he does not suggest dropping algebra.</p>
<p>We also need improved assessment. It’s hard to tell how instruction is working when the tests don’t tell you what the students are (or are not) learning. </p>
<p>SchoolBook readers learned about the faulty polygon that <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05EFDD153BF930A35756C0A9649D8B63&pagewanted=all">disgraced this spring’s fifth-grade math test</a>. I’ve found other basic errors in previous state math exams. </p>
<p>More significantly, a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/school/682-brooklyn-technical-high-school">Brooklyn Technical High School</a> math teacher <a href="http://mrhonner.com/about/">Patrick Honner</a> notes both the 2011 and 2012 Regents exams contained “mathematical errors, poorly constructed questions, underrepresented topics, and 9th-grade questions on 11th-grade exams.”</p>
<p>If the New York State Department of Education can’t even ask the right questions, is it any wonder students find algebra challenging? In the ‘no excuses’ culture that dominates education reform these days, it is simply shameful that Albany can’t produce higher quality tests.</p>
<p>Before dropping algebra in favor of more ‘useful’ mathematics, we would do well to first examine how we deliver and assess the most fundamental aspects of math education. </p>
<p>If we can get these basics right, we’ll discover that algebra isn’t so tough after all, and that our students are better equipped to contemplate, and contribute to, the world around them.</p>
Tue, 14 Aug 2012 12:16:25 -0400http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/schoolbook/2012/aug/14/before-dropping-algebra-fix-math-education/682-brooklyn-technical-high-schoolalgebracollege_admissionsis_algebra_necessary?math_educationstandardized_testingA recent opinion essay in The New York Times by Andrew Hacker, asking the question "Is Algebra Necessary?", drew hundreds of comments. Some of SchoolBook's contributors went further and have written their own essays in response. What's your opinion? Respond to our query below. (We would especially love to hear from students or recent graduates.)
As a parent with three children rising through New York City public schools, I’m sympathetic to the argument by the Queens College professor Andrew Hacker that "elite" colleges often saddle students with large debts for little discernible benefit in salaries or social status over their less-prestigious brethren.
Lorraine Levey Matthew Levey
Whether or not my kids earn 3.8 GPAs and score 2,200 on their SATs, Dr. Hacker’s claim that they can obtain an excellent college education for less than $200,000 resonates.
Regardless of where my children attend college, I know they will need a well-rounded preparation in their primary and secondary schools. They might become doctors or engineers, poets or professors. But wherever life leads them, they’ll need to be able to appreciate Shakespeare, understand standard deviation, and explain the laws governing the conservation of energy.
Thus I was taken aback by Dr. Hacker’s recent essay in The New York Times asserting that algebra is meaningless and should be dropped in favor of more practical math.
There are many ways to succeed in college, but none of them require algebra? It was important for Andrew Hacker in the late 1940s and when I attended junior high in the late 1970s, but now my son doesn’t need it? He’ll just look up the answer on the Internet?
If my child was accepted at Yale, a friend once assured me, I would not turn it down and I’d find a way to pay for it. But whether he attends a “top 25” school or a community college, he will have to work, participate in the life of his community, and understand complex questions like the healthcare and defense dilemmas we’re intent on burdening him with.
To meet these challenges he’ll need a solid grounding in the critical theories under-girding our world, including the abstractions one learns in algebra.
Using set theory, Sesame Street offers a brilliant example of why abstraction matters. After repeating the word “fish” six times to take a room service order from a group of penguins, the hapless hotel clerk learns he can just say “six fish” and it means the same thing.
“Does it work on other stuff?” he asks. “Say cinnamon rolls, cream pies and spark plugs?”
This leap, the ability to appropriately generalize from a specific example, is at the core of a high quality education, be it in literature, art, history or math.
But to generalize well, children need a solid grounding in the facts. In the case of math, this means both strong computational fluency and a good understanding of the underlying critical theories. Some students will gain this insight faster; others will have to work harder. Either way, I’m not willing to let my children’s schools off the hook for teaching this effectively.
Dr. Hacker is certainly correct when he observes we do a mediocre job teaching math; over the last decade in New York City our children have shown modest progress on national math tests like the NAEP. But as a parent and taxpayer, I’m disappointed that he thinks the solution is to stop teaching foundational math like algebra.
Clearly the first step is to improve instruction. The University of California-Berkley professor Hung-Hsi Wu has long criticized the “textbook standard math” that we use in New York City (and across most of the U.S.).
Dr. Wu’s 30-year analysis shows that we teach math “as a jumbled collection of tasks."
"It would be reasonable,” he says “to attribute a good deal of students' non-learning of mathematics to their being fed such jumbled information all the way from kindergarten to grade 12.”
Like many educators, Dr. Wu hopes the Common Core will lead to a more coherent approach to math instruction, but he does not suggest dropping algebra.
We also need improved assessment. It’s hard to tell how instruction is working when the tests don’t tell you what the students are (or are not) learning.
SchoolBook readers learned about the faulty polygon that disgraced this spring’s fifth-grade math test. I’ve found other basic errors in previous state math exams.
More significantly, a Brooklyn Technical High School math teacher Patrick Honner notes both the 2011 and 2012 Regents exams contained “mathematical errors, poorly constructed questions, underrepresented topics, and 9th-grade questions on 11th-grade exams.”
If the New York State Department of Education can’t even ask the right questions, is it any wonder students find algebra challenging? In the ‘no excuses’ culture that dominates education reform these days, it is simply shameful that Albany can’t produce higher quality tests.
Before dropping algebra in favor of more ‘useful’ mathematics, we would do well to first examine how we deliver and assess the most fundamental aspects of math education.
If we can get these basics right, we’ll discover that algebra isn’t so tough after all, and that our students are better equipped to contemplate, and contribute to, the world around them.
Matthew LeveyIn Defense of Algebra
http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/226822-algebra-chopping-block/<p>We’ve been talking x squared minus y cubed divided by z to the power of four lately. This is the language of algebra.</p>
<p>Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College New York, recently proclaimed on The Takeaway that the age old belief that "algebra and mathematics generally sharpens our mind, gives us critical reasoning faculties and so on...[is] total fiction."</p>
<p>Many of our listeners weighed in on the topic. Nancy W. from Northville, Michigan says: "I am a pianist and private piano instructor. I also have held positions in employee relations and communications. Do I use algebra or geometry daily? No. However, I'm sure they did much to enhance my critical thinking skills, much like the music I teach enhances a student's general coordination, reading, and collaborative skills. And I will say, geometry has come in handy as my husband and I have made home improvements on our own, determined the fall pattern of a dead tree we removed, and many other 'round-the-home' projects. Yeah, math!"</p>
<p>Another listener, Amber W., from Utah, explains: "My undergraduate degree was in philosophy, so I could argue most of my degree was useless. However, because of what I learned in those classes, I could also easily argue otherwise. Not everything we learn is directly useful. Algebra is a great prequel for symbolic logic. I do not think everyone needs a formal course in that, but they need the basic skills. We lack basic logic already. There could be alternatives, but I do not see them in the guests option."</p>
<p><span><strong>Evelyn Lamb </strong></span><span>holds a PhD in Mathematics from Rice University and is a writer for Scientific American.</span></p>
Wed, 01 Aug 2012 10:45:59 -0400http://www.thetakeaway.org/2012/aug/01/algebra-chopping-block/algebraeducationmathschoolstudentsIn Defense of Algebra
7:17We’ve been talking x squared minus y cubed divided by z to the power of four lately. This is the language of algebra.
Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College New York, recently proclaimed on The Takeaway that the age old belief that "algebra and mathematics generally sharpens our mind, gives us critical reasoning faculties and so on...[is] total fiction."
Many of our listeners weighed in on the topic. Nancy W. from Northville, Michigan says: "I am a pianist and private piano instructor. I also have held positions in employee relations and communications. Do I use algebra or geometry daily? No. However, I'm sure they did much to enhance my critical thinking skills, much like the music I teach enhances a student's general coordination, reading, and collaborative skills. And I will say, geometry has come in handy as my husband and I have made home improvements on our own, determined the fall pattern of a dead tree we removed, and many other 'round-the-home' projects. Yeah, math!"
Another listener, Amber W., from Utah, explains: "My undergraduate degree was in philosophy, so I could argue most of my degree was useless. However, because of what I learned in those classes, I could also easily argue otherwise. Not everything we learn is directly useful. Algebra is a great prequel for symbolic logic. I do not think everyone needs a formal course in that, but they need the basic skills. We lack basic logic already. There could be alternatives, but I do not see them in the guests option."
Evelyn Lamb holds a PhD in Mathematics from Rice University and is a writer for Scientific American.All Calculators and No Brains: The Pros and Cons to High School Algebra
http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/226547-all-calculators-and-no-brains-pros-and-cons-high-school-algebra/<p>In his recent editorial for the New York Times, <strong>Andrew Hacker</strong>, professor of political science at Queens College in New York, asks “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">Is Algebra Necessary?</a>” Hacker says that the millions of high school students and college freshmen taking mandatory mathematics aren’t actually learning much aside from tapping those calculators. He argues that instead, algebra is hindering students who are talented in other fields.<br>"First of all, when it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), only about 5 percent of all Americans, six million out of 150 million employed Americans, use STEM skills in our jobs," Hacker says. </p>
<p>After sitting in on classes and talking to educators across the country, Hacker says that math class is an unnecessary hoop to jump through on the way to graduation. "What the teachers tell me is that the largest single academic reason why students drop out of high school is algebra," the professor says. "Twenty-five percent of our ninth graders do not make it to graduation. That's a scandal." </p>
<p>"Now what we do need [is] quantitative skills — how to use statistics, how to read statistics," Hacker says. He would like to see students being handed a copy of the recently passed Affordable Care Act instead of a sheet full of quadratic equations. Instead of Algebra II, students would enroll in "Citizen's Statistics" (Hacker admits that it's a working title). </p>
<p>"This is not dumbing down, this is not how to balance your checkbook," he says. "Let's give students a couple hundred pages of print with all sorts of ideas and tables from all sides on what's going to happen with the new health care act, and let them go through it, research it, find out what are the facts, what are the fictions, what do we know, what are we guessing about. That, contrary to dumbing down, will be more difficult [and] more rigorous than geometry." </p>
<p>Typically, the benefits of studying algebra are said to be improved abstract reasoning, logic, and problem solving, but Hacker categorizes those as "myths." </p>
<p>"The people who have a vested interest in keeping algebra going, those who accept the myths and mystiques, will say virtually anything to defend it," Hacker says. "Certainly, I want people to have more quantitative skills, [but] it doesn't require any algebra — in fact, no math above long division and ratios." </p>
Tue, 31 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0400http://www.thetakeaway.org/2012/jul/31/all-calculators-and-no-brains-pros-and-cons-high-school-algebra/algebraeducationmathematicstechnologyAll Calculators and No Brains: The Pros and Cons to High School Algebra
10:22In his recent editorial for the New York Times, Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College in New York, asks “Is Algebra Necessary?” Hacker says that the millions of high school students and college freshmen taking mandatory mathematics aren’t actually learning much aside from tapping those calculators. He argues that instead, algebra is hindering students who are talented in other fields."First of all, when it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), only about 5 percent of all Americans, six million out of 150 million employed Americans, use STEM skills in our jobs," Hacker says.
After sitting in on classes and talking to educators across the country, Hacker says that math class is an unnecessary hoop to jump through on the way to graduation. "What the teachers tell me is that the largest single academic reason why students drop out of high school is algebra," the professor says. "Twenty-five percent of our ninth graders do not make it to graduation. That's a scandal."
"Now what we do need [is] quantitative skills — how to use statistics, how to read statistics," Hacker says. He would like to see students being handed a copy of the recently passed Affordable Care Act instead of a sheet full of quadratic equations. Instead of Algebra II, students would enroll in "Citizen's Statistics" (Hacker admits that it's a working title).
"This is not dumbing down, this is not how to balance your checkbook," he says. "Let's give students a couple hundred pages of print with all sorts of ideas and tables from all sides on what's going to happen with the new health care act, and let them go through it, research it, find out what are the facts, what are the fictions, what do we know, what are we guessing about. That, contrary to dumbing down, will be more difficult [and] more rigorous than geometry."
Typically, the benefits of studying algebra are said to be improved abstract reasoning, logic, and problem solving, but Hacker categorizes those as "myths."
"The people who have a vested interest in keeping algebra going, those who accept the myths and mystiques, will say virtually anything to defend it," Hacker says. "Certainly, I want people to have more quantitative skills, [but] it doesn't require any algebra — in fact, no math above long division and ratios." Adding It Up
http://www.wnyc.org/story/87537-adding-it-up/<div class="mceTemp">
<dl id="attachment_16796" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 510px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt"><img src="http://media2.wnyc.org/media/wp-images/news/files/2009/12/algebrabanner.jpg" alt="(photo by Stephen Nessen)" width="500" height="171"></dt>
</dl></div>
<p>Community colleges are playing a growing role in American higher education. They’re taking more students than ever, due to the weak economy and the high cost of four-year colleges. But their graduation rates have long been dismal. Nationally, only a third of community college students graduate after three years. Students who enroll in community colleges tend to be poorer and less academically successful than students at four-year colleges. Most need remedial classes -- especially in math. To see why math is such a hurdle, WNYC’s Beth Fertig spent the fall of 2009 visiting a remedial or 'developmental' math class at LaGuardia Community College in Queens.</p>
<p><em>This report was compiled with assistance from the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Columbia University.</em></p>
<p>Click through the full series below.</p>
<p><strong><a href="http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/142094">'Adding It Up' Part 1: Confronting Math Fear</a></strong><br>
Community colleges serve almost half of all college students in the nation. Graduation rates are low -- hovering around 30 percent after three years -- and a majority of students need remedial help, especially in math. This is the case in New York City, where community colleges are seeing a huge influx of new students.<a title="Meet the Class of " adding it up href="http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/2009/10/05/meet-the-class-of-adding-it-up/" target="_self"><br>
WNYC News Blog: Meet the Class of 'Adding It Up'</a><br><a href="http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/2009/10/05/adding-it-up-part-1-the-hurdle-of-remedial-math-at-a-community-college/">WNYC News Blog: The Hurdle of Remedial Math at a Community College</a></p>
<p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><div id="audioplayer_idp135684486db2eb1f-aac3-438d-9426-87ba1afc7926" class="player_element" data-url="http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news20091006_remedial_math_fertig_featu.mp3" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="" data-may-embed="true"></div></div></p>
<p><strong><a href="http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/143451">'Adding It Up' Part 2: How to Keep an ‘A’</a></strong><br>
Here in New York, 75 percent of freshmen at the City University of New York’s community colleges take remedial math, writing, or reading. As Beth Fertig discovered, the students have competing demands, which can make it difficult to keep up.<a href="http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/2009/10/29/%e2%80%9cadding-it-up%e2%80%9d-part-2-%e2%80%93-%e2%80%9chow-to-keep-an-a/"><br>
WNYC News Blog: How to Keep an 'A'</a><br><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><div id="audioplayer_idm182312031b95f5b-188e-4924-8b5c-75f0c531a314" class="player_element" data-url="http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news20091030_remedial_math_part2forblog.mp3" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="" data-may-embed="true"></div></div><strong><a href="http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/145806"></a></strong></p>
<p><strong><a href="http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/145806">'Adding it Up' Part 3: Teaching Math Means Breaking It Down</a></strong><br>
As students progress through the educational system, weak math skills take their toll. And community colleges are feeling the pressure. The schools have open enrollment, and on many campuses most of the students take remedial math. In this third installment, Beth Fertig looks at the role of teaching.<br><a href="http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/2009/12/07/adding-it-up-and-breaking-it-down/">WNYC News Blog: Breaking it Down</a><br><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><div id="audioplayer_idm25509608d3d1f0f-a792-4171-ac82-5c52ad0c76cf" class="player_element" data-url="http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news20091209_math_part_3_fertig.mp3" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="" data-may-embed="true"></div></div></p>
<p><strong><a href="http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/146556">'Adding it Up' Part 4: The Real Test for Community Colleges<br></a><span style="font-weight: normal;">In this final report of our series, Beth Fertig looks at what it takes to succeed in remedial math class, and how colleges are responding to students who don't think math is relevant.<br><a href="http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/2009/12/17/adding-it-up-part-4/">WNYC News Blog: How the Students Scored</a><br><a href="http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/2009/12/18/im-not-ready-for-college-algebra/">WNYC News Blog: I'm Not Ready for College Algebra. Are You?</a><br><a href="http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/2009/12/18/adding-it-up-part-4-take-the-test/">WNYC News Blog: Take the Sample Test</a></span></strong></p>
<p><div class="inline_audioplayer_wrapper"><div id="audioplayer_idm24893766d2b573d-8ab3-4d92-8c6e-cb0041c1c09a" class="player_element" data-url="http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news20091218_math_part_4_fertig.mp3" data-width="400" data-title="" data-brand="" data-thumbnail="" data-download="" data-may-embed="true"></div></div></p>
Fri, 18 Dec 2009 03:30:15 -0500http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2009/dec/18/adding-it-up/adding_it_upalgebrabeth_fertigcommunity_collegeeducationlaguardia_community_college
Community colleges are playing a growing role in American higher education. They’re taking more students than ever, due to the weak economy and the high cost of four-year colleges. But their graduation rates have long been dismal. Nationally, only a third of community college students graduate after three years. Students who enroll in community colleges tend to be poorer and less academically successful than students at four-year colleges. Most need remedial classes -- especially in math. To see why math is such a hurdle, WNYC’s Beth Fertig spent the fall of 2009 visiting a remedial or 'developmental' math class at LaGuardia Community College in Queens.
This report was compiled with assistance from the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Columbia University.
Click through the full series below.
'Adding It Up' Part 1: Confronting Math Fear
Community colleges serve almost half of all college students in the nation. Graduation rates are low -- hovering around 30 percent after three years -- and a majority of students need remedial help, especially in math. This is the case in New York City, where community colleges are seeing a huge influx of new students.
WNYC News Blog: Meet the Class of 'Adding It Up'WNYC News Blog: The Hurdle of Remedial Math at a Community College
'Adding It Up' Part 2: How to Keep an ‘A’
Here in New York, 75 percent of freshmen at the City University of New York’s community colleges take remedial math, writing, or reading. As Beth Fertig discovered, the students have competing demands, which can make it difficult to keep up.
WNYC News Blog: How to Keep an 'A'
'Adding it Up' Part 3: Teaching Math Means Breaking It Down
As students progress through the educational system, weak math skills take their toll. And community colleges are feeling the pressure. The schools have open enrollment, and on many campuses most of the students take remedial math. In this third installment, Beth Fertig looks at the role of teaching.WNYC News Blog: Breaking it Down
'Adding it Up' Part 4: The Real Test for Community CollegesIn this final report of our series, Beth Fertig looks at what it takes to succeed in remedial math class, and how colleges are responding to students who don't think math is relevant.WNYC News Blog: How the Students ScoredWNYC News Blog: I'm Not Ready for College Algebra. Are You?WNYC News Blog: Take the Sample Test
Beth Fertig'Adding it Up' Part 4: How They Scored
http://www.wnyc.org/story/87534-adding-it-up-part-4-how-they-scored/<div class="mceTemp" style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://media2.wnyc.org/media/wp-images/news/files/2009/12/algebrabanner.jpg" alt="(photo by Stephen Nessen)" width="500" height="171"></div>
<p>Getting out of remedial math is a two-step process at CUNY’s community colleges. Students have to get a 60% average in their class, and they have to pass an assessment known as COMPASS.</p>
<p>At LaGuardia Community College, 32 students registered for Jorge Perez’s remedial algebra class in September. Fifteen did well enough in their coursework to be eligible for COMPASS. Of those students, 13 actually showed up to take the exam on December 14, and ten of them passed.</p>
<p>That’s only a third of the class. But Professor Perez notes that it’s a majority of those who stayed. The class had already shrunk to 19 students by the mid-term. Some students found the work too difficult, or ran into other issues. A pregnant woman who sounded determined to pass the class in September said she had to drop the course because of doctor’s orders. She was also working full-time.</p>
<p>These low pass rates are typical of remedial students in community colleges. The problems start well before the students arrive in college. Educators are grappling with raising high school standards, and improving the teaching profession in K-12. In higher education, they’re looking at how to make the algebra and geometry covered in remedial math classes more relevant to students while providing them with more support in the form of tutoring centers and “learning communities” so students will take more of their classes together and feel like a smaller group.</p>
<p>But passing the class also requires students to make the effort. “Teaching is such a complex human endeavor,” Perez says. “I cannot cause anybody to learn. It’s motivation the students bring into the classroom that will make the difference.”</p>
<p>Below are a few of those motivated students. They can now move on to college-level algebra, pre-calculus, and statistics, depending on their majors.</p>
<div class="mceTemp">
<dl id="attachment_17025" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 460px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt"><img src="http://media2.wnyc.org/media/wp-images/news/files/2009/12/Math-Danielle-Daewoodedit.jpg" alt="Math, Danielle & Daewoodedit" width="450" height="299"></dt>
<h4><span style="font-weight: normal;">Danielle Alba, 23, and Daewood Garita, 18. Alba was consistently the top student in Perez’s class even though she says she has dyslexia and did poorly in math during high school. Alba was the only student who passed both parts of the final exam. She attributed her success to hard work. She says, 'I just decided that it’s math. Anyone can do it. I can too.'</span></h4>
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<div class="mceTemp">
<dl id="attachment_17026" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 460px;"><img src="http://media2.wnyc.org/media/wp-images/news/files/2009/12/Math-Jesus-after-Compassedit.jpg" alt="Math, Jesus after Compassedit" width="450" height="358">Jesus Espinoza plans to major in civil engineering now that he’s passed remedial algebra.
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<dl id="attachment_17027" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 460px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt"><img src="http://media2.wnyc.org/media/wp-images/news/files/2009/12/Math-lindaedit.jpg" alt="Math, lindaedit" width="450" height="337"></dt>
<h4><span style="font-weight: normal;">Linda Dutan, 20, was thrilled to have passed remedial algebra because this was her second time taking the class. She’s majoring in photography.</span></h4>
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<div class="mceTemp">
<dl id="attachment_17028" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 460px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt"><img src="http://media2.wnyc.org/media/wp-images/news/files/2009/12/Math-Victor-after-Compassedit.jpg" alt="Math, Victor after Compassedit" width="450" height="325"></dt>
<h4><span style="font-weight: normal;">Victor Lopez, 25, said it 'feels good' to pass. He believes math has important lessons for life because, 'You have to be careful what you do, you have to think about repercussions.'</span></h4>
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<dl id="attachment_17043" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 460px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt"><img src="http://media2.wnyc.org/media/wp-images/news/files/2009/12/elizabethedit.jpg" alt="elizabethedit" width="450" height="324"></dt>
<h4><span style="font-weight: normal;">Elizabeth Rodriguez was among the three students who failed the COMPASS test. She had already taken the class twice before and says she knows the material when she practices problems on her own, but freezes up on the test. “It’s a personal block,” she explains. “An emotional thing with the math that I have to let go.” Perez encouraged her to take advantage of a free 30-hour workshop for students who fail the exam, so she can take it again. “I just gotta keep on trying,” she said.</span></h4>
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Thu, 17 Dec 2009 17:05:06 -0500http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2009/dec/17/adding-it-up-part-4-how-they-scored/adding_it_upalgebracommunity_collegeeducationlaguardia_community_collegemath
Getting out of remedial math is a two-step process at CUNY’s community colleges. Students have to get a 60% average in their class, and they have to pass an assessment known as COMPASS.
At LaGuardia Community College, 32 students registered for Jorge Perez’s remedial algebra class in September. Fifteen did well enough in their coursework to be eligible for COMPASS. Of those students, 13 actually showed up to take the exam on December 14, and ten of them passed.
That’s only a third of the class. But Professor Perez notes that it’s a majority of those who stayed. The class had already shrunk to 19 students by the mid-term. Some students found the work too difficult, or ran into other issues. A pregnant woman who sounded determined to pass the class in September said she had to drop the course because of doctor’s orders. She was also working full-time.
These low pass rates are typical of remedial students in community colleges. The problems start well before the students arrive in college. Educators are grappling with raising high school standards, and improving the teaching profession in K-12. In higher education, they’re looking at how to make the algebra and geometry covered in remedial math classes more relevant to students while providing them with more support in the form of tutoring centers and “learning communities” so students will take more of their classes together and feel like a smaller group.
But passing the class also requires students to make the effort. “Teaching is such a complex human endeavor,” Perez says. “I cannot cause anybody to learn. It’s motivation the students bring into the classroom that will make the difference.”
Below are a few of those motivated students. They can now move on to college-level algebra, pre-calculus, and statistics, depending on their majors.
Danielle Alba, 23, and Daewood Garita, 18. Alba was consistently the top student in Perez’s class even though she says she has dyslexia and did poorly in math during high school. Alba was the only student who passed both parts of the final exam. She attributed her success to hard work. She says, 'I just decided that it’s math. Anyone can do it. I can too.'
Jesus Espinoza plans to major in civil engineering now that he’s passed remedial algebra.
Linda Dutan, 20, was thrilled to have passed remedial algebra because this was her second time taking the class. She’s majoring in photography.
Victor Lopez, 25, said it 'feels good' to pass. He believes math has important lessons for life because, 'You have to be careful what you do, you have to think about repercussions.'
Elizabeth Rodriguez was among the three students who failed the COMPASS test. She had already taken the class twice before and says she knows the material when she practices problems on her own, but freezes up on the test. “It’s a personal block,” she explains. “An emotional thing with the math that I have to let go.” Perez encouraged her to take advantage of a free 30-hour workshop for students who fail the exam, so she can take it again. “I just gotta keep on trying,” she said.
Beth Fertig