Program aims to change course of US math education

first_imgIt’s tough enough launching a business, even one as traditional in its structure as the EinsteinWise after-school tutoring program.But trying to change the course of American math education — that’s a bit like trying to swim the length of the Columbia River, upstream.Sudhakar Kudva and Sang Park say they created EinsteinWise to play a small part in helping raise U.S. math standards to the level of our nation’s economic competitors. It’s a grand ambition for a small after-school tutoring program, but the two men intend to continue their research as their program evolves. Meanwhile, Kudva has become active in discussions with local educators and legislators about how to improve math education statewide.Improvements in math and science are desperately needed in order to better prepare students for today’s jobs, education and policy leaders agree. At a symposium this fall, the Washington State Academy of Sciences focused its attention on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education. Earll Murman, an emeritus professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is the academy’s president, says Washington’s math and science education isn’t keeping up with the needs of the state’s large high-tech sector. “We end up being a large importer of people with math and science degrees,” said Murman, who lives in Port Townsend. The reasons for inadequate math and science education abound, he says: inadequate teacher preparation; a focus on testing outcomes rather than broad concepts; a perception by students that they don’t need math skills; and inadequate home support for math and science education. Each of the symposium’s three speakers emphasized a key challenge for those working to improve math education, Murman said. “The biggest problem we have as a citizenry is that we don’t admit we have a problem,” he said.last_img

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