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Math for Today's World: The Critical Role of Professional Development

Our world of math instruction is split in half. On one side, we are bound by a tradition that is heavily reliant on “implementing the textbook.” This means a heavy emphasis on review and controlled practice of newly taught procedures. Curriculum can make a difference, but in so many cases, teachers are inevitably pulled toward teaching in a way that closely resembles how they were taught one or two decades ago.

The other half of math instruction includes standards and new forms of assessment. Meeting the standards and moving students toward higher levels of success on new tests requires greater teacher knowledge as well as the ability to go beyond the textbook when planning and implementing a lesson. This new form of teaching means that our students need to learn concepts and solve challenging problems as well as practice procedures.

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Dr. John Woodward discusses the reasons why many students entering middle school experience a significant drop in math achievement—and what can be done to get them on track for algebra success. Factors of failure include the excessive quantity of material to be covered, the rate at which it is presented, inappropriate entry points ignoring critical gaps in understanding, and ineffective remedial interventions. This white paper explores proven, age-appropriate solutions, including covering fewer topics in greater depth, using a dual-topic approach, and increasing student motivation with real-world connections.

Preparing Struggling Learners for Algebra