7 November 2011 10:41 AM

Make Sure Your Child is Ready for Algebra

by Dr. Rick

A few weeks ago the Dr. Rick Blog discussed why our middle- and high-school aged students should study algebraAmong the reasons were their developing problem solving and discipline skills, not to mention the math-heavy job market.  A couple of days later we looked at several ways kids could improve their algebra grades.


It’s a good time to re-visit the algebra topic.  Mid-semester tests are imminent, and anxiety is particularly high among those kids who are having trouble keeping up.  Enough time has passed this school year for skill gaps to affect learning – and confidence.


The company I work for, Sylvan Learninghas been helping algebra learners for over thirty years.  But recent research, which I’ll get to in a moment, indicates that being ready for algebra is more important than ever.  The best way to do well in this all-important subject is to be ready for it in the first place.


Consider these facts.


  1. Math is the foundation for future jobs.  According to the US Department of Commerce (2011), math-intensive science and engineering jobs are the fastest growing occupations and are outpacing overall job growth by three-to-one.
  2. Employers demand math.  The US Department of Commerce goes on to report employers are demanding strong math skills of their workers.  Seventy-five percent of businesses place a “very high level of priority” on improving math and science to strengthen America’s workforce.
  3. We’re in a “knowledge-based” economy.  Like it or not, we’re competing with every other industrialized country in the world.  Strong skills and a deep academic foundation are more important than ever.  Other countries know this.
  4. Our kids lag behind.  According to the Program for International Assessment (2009), US students ranked 25th among 34 countries in math.
  5. And they’re not ready.  The 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that two out of three 8th grade American students are not ready for algebra.
  6. Parents don’t feel comfortable helping with algebra.  According to Kelton Research in a report commissioned by Sylvan (2011), 97% of parents feel more prepared to discuss alcohol and drug use with their children than to help with algebra homework.  Seventy percent believe that helping their kids with algebra is harder than teaching them how to drive.
  7. They’d rather do their taxes.  Over four in five parents reported to Kelton that they’d make more mistakes on the algebra problems their children bring home than their own tax preparations.
  8. Kids don’t like algebra.  Kelton also reports that even though kids recognize algebra’s importance, one in three would be quick to sacrifice video games or Facebook privileges for a month if they’d never have to study algebra again.
  9. They think it’s “hard.”  Forty-nine percent of 8th and 9th graders interviewed by Kelton reported that algebra is their “hardest” subject.
  10. Parents want to know if their kids are ready for algebra.  Nearly one in five parents told Kelton they would appreciate some kid of early assessment on whether their children were ready to learn algebra.

 So here’s what you should know.  Sylvan Learning provides a free algebra readiness check-up, Fit 4 AlgebraIt helps parents determine if their children are ready for this critical subject, often referred to as a “gateway” to higher level mathematics.  Kids take the check-up online, and they and their parents get an understanding of their algebra fitness.  They’ll get a breakdown of their strengths and needs as well as links to resources to ensure they have the help they need to get fit for algebra. 


Did I mention it’s free?


Don’t let a fear of algebra – either yours or your kid’s – be a roadblock to future school and career success.  Get help now.


Math | Opinion


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