photo by D’Aira McCrory
With math scores down across the state, McEachern dives headlong into the storm with a focus on improving math literacy.
According to the Program for International Student Association (PISA), math literacy is an individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role the mathematics play in the world, to make well-founded judgments and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of an individual’s life.
According to Krystal Wattley McEachern students are strong in computation skills but “word problems are where our students struggle.”
The main issue is that students have to broaden their horizons; math is not about simple computations anymore. Students are expected to interpret situations and analyze and solve problems while using math. The focus is on vocabulary and comprehending what each word problem is actually saying.
For years math teachers have been asked to teach a certain way, but with the recent decline in math scores expectations have changed. Teaching techniques must be adjusted in order to better prepare students.
The main goal is to improve student performance in math and to build a strong mathematical base that will allow them to solve various real-life situations throughout life.
An important part of math literacy is engaging with mathematics: using and doing mathematics in various situations. Mathematical knowledge and understanding to solve problems arise on day to day basis.
“I do believe that certain mathematical skills will be beneficial later in life, like when it comes to taxes, handling money, and everyday problem solving,” junior Davonte Swann said.
It has been recognized that often the skills used to solve a math equation or problem will be necessary to solve certain real-life situations that are dependent on mathematics.
Mathematically literate students are able to analyze, reason, and communicate ideas effectively as they formulate, solve, and interpret math problems. By being mathematically literate students improve communication skills such as reading writing, speaking, and listening skills while also perfecting their math-specific skills; symbolizing, graphing, using tables, and creating diagrams.
Attempting to understand math terminology is essential, however applying the concepts effectively is a skill required in every subject.
“Improving literacy skills in math increases science reading comprehension particularly in physics, where word problems are an integral part of the curriculum,” said science department chairperson Angela Caylor.
It is an age old question, grumbled by students out of frustration and asked with disdain. “When are we ever going to actually use this?” Math literacy is aiming to answer that question. By closing the gaps of understanding and creating real life situations, this new method is changing the bad connotations students have about math.
The math department is changing, and introducing math literacy is the first step.