The Globe and Mail newspaper published this article: 'New secondary grads trail in math courses' on February 13, 2008. That evening, I wrote my first email regarding the need for change to the method of teaching math in our secondary schools. I already had many concerns regarding learning and retention of math by my children (Including many hours of expensive tutors). This article made it clear that my kids were not alone; thousands of other students were also not being well prepared for post-secondary studies and/or the workforce.
The full text of this article is presented below with the original source link.
New secondary grads trail in math courses
Globe and Mail February 13, 2008 By Elizabeth Church
A large percentage of Ontario high-school students arriving at community college do not have the math skills they need to succeed in technology and business programs, new research shows.
A study of the performance of more than 10,000 students enrolled in first-semester math courses at six Toronto-area community colleges found that one-third receive a D grade or worse - a showing that puts these students at high risk of dropping out.
"It's not pretty," said Laurel Schollen, dean of applied science and engineering technology at Toronto's Seneca College and director of the study.
Ms. Schollen, who has worked extensively in the college system, said educators for several years have talked anecdotally about students' struggle with math. This research, she says, provides clear evidence of the extent of that struggle.
The report also recommends several actions to try to improve the situation, including better information for high- school students about course selection, support for college students and more collaboration between colleges and high schools.
"This is not a finger-pointing exercise. For me, it is a way of looking at how are we doing and how could we do better."
Ms. Schollen said experience at her own school has shown that students in technology programs who do poorly in their first semester of math were unlikely to finish the program - a loss for the student and the college, as well as to the economy and the taxpayer. An earlier pilot study found more than 50 per cent of students with D grades or lower left their programs within a year.
This new, more ambitious report found that in regular college-level math courses, just 63 per cent of recent Ontario high-school graduates got "good grades" - defined by the study as a C or better. Mature students and those who graduated from high schools outside Ontario fared better.
The study is based on grades from 2006 and was conducted by the York-Seneca Institute for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, a joint project between York University and the college. Students in the sample attended six colleges - Centennial, George Brown, Humber and Seneca in Toronto, Georgian in Barrie and Sheridan in Oakville.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it found that students who had taken more advanced math courses in Grades 9 and 10 were more likely to be in this good-grades group.
Ms. Schollen said the lesson here is that students looking to go on to college programs where math is required - especially technology courses - may be getting the wrong message about what high-school courses they should take. Some may be tempted, she said, to take an easier course where they can get better grades, but they are not doing themselves any favours.
The study's findings, she said, show that students, parents and high-school guidance counsellors need to know more about postsecondary options.