Preparation for Higher Level Mathematics


The preparation of students for college,
it’s it’s changed in the past few years
largely because of the great acceleration of students in high school who are trying
to get into more and more advanced courses earlier and earlier, and one of the
things that we’ve seen as a real explosion in in calculus in in high school are to
the point now where where most of the students taking
calculus in college have already taken it in high school. Many more students start
calculus in high school than start it in college, and many
students are ready for this. That that’s fine for them, but what we do
see in college is a lot of students who’ve been rushing through earlier preparatory material so that by the time they get to calculus
at a college or university it’s not the calculus is such that they
have trouble with but they’re they’re lacking the foundation that they
need in order to succeed in that calculus I’m really excited about the Common Core
State Standards as an opportunity for more kids to take more and better
mathematics. In particular I’m really excited that more kids will have the opportunity to
get a solid foundation for taking calculus my experience both as a high school
calculus teacher and now working on the Advanced
Placement development committee for calculus has made it even more apparent to me that it’s really important that kids
have this grounding that they understand the key fundamental
ideas in mathematics before they embark on
calculus in the new Common Core State Standards
provide that opportunity and we’re excited because more and more
kids are taking calculus We just want to be sure that when
kids are taking calculus the really have the foundation that’s
necessary in order to do well to really understand so that
when they get to the University they’re not looking at their
mathematics professor wondering what they’re really talking
about because all they memorized were certain formulas and procedures there’s a strong national concern with
the the need to prepare more
engineers, to prepare more scientists, to prepare more students who are
mathematically literate who can work on the large databases that
we’ve got, the big computing issues that we’ve got so we need a lot more young people with a lot more training in the
mathematical sciences and tremendous concern about the fact
that we’re losing so many promising students so what’s also nice about the Common
Core Standards is that in addition to prepping for the you know the traditional sequence that
leads to calculus study it also creates a stronger foundation in modeling and then also in
statistics so we’re seeing at all grades really starting with six grade through
the high school courses a treatment of, a deeper treatment
of Statistics than many of us have seen before, but then we
also see on the other end preparation for advanced placement
statistics or a deeper study of statistics and this really will help for a wide variety
of careers because when you think about all the non-traditional math STEM careers you think about and any career feel that’s going to
require research of some sort you need to have some statistics
background so that you can support the research that you’re doing there
isn’t just one route to being successful as a scientist
or an engineer or somebody working in in the mathematical sciences. There
are lots of different ways of getting there. Statistics is one of
the great ways. and I know so many young people who
thought they were no good at mathematics they didn’t like mathematics and then they
got into statistics and they found suddenly that there was
something that they really enjoyed and they needed
more of that mathematics to support it. One of the things that I really appreciated from being president to the math Association of America was that it gave me contact with a lot of people
who are really interested in what’s going on in both K-12 mathematics
education and also in post-secondary mathematics education and there’s a
recognition among mathematicians that if students
are going to succeed in mathematics at the college level they’ve got to be explorers of
mathematics. They’ve got to be people who can take an unfamiliar
problem and try to think about what’s the right mathematics to use here and that’s one of the things that people
are very encouraged by in the Common Core because of the
fact that that there’s so much emphasis on the
real understanding and I’ve been pleased to see a lot of
the mathematicians who’ve been very critical Of earlier efforts to reform
mathematics education who are now strong supporters of the
Common Core because they see that this is doing what
really needs to be done and it’s doing things right.