Here are four problems, published by the New York Daily News, that high school graduates attempted as they entered the City University of New York (CUNY) system. The percents are those who answered correctly.
- 64%: 5 + 3 (4+6)
- 44%: How much is 0.2 divided by 5?
- 34%: Write 3/8 as a decimal
- 10%: Solve the equation x2 = 9
Note again that these are the results from fresh high school graduates entering college. These are not older people coming back to school after many years, nor are they the folks who eschewed college. These are people who should know these answers.
I can just see—maybe—that knowing the answer to the fourth question should not be a requirement for a university education. But one-third could not accomplish a simple addition/multiplication problem.
As I’ve argued before, that’s about the percentage of people who do not belong in university. For an interesting debate of this subject, head over to Chronicle.com. Our pal Charles Murray is there.
I’ve told this story many times, but when was an undergrad I was in an intensive mathematical program. Five days a week, tons of homework every night, oral quizzes—-oral quizzes! A lot of people washed out after the first year, even more the second. One first-year washout was a female who we can call Jenny. I met Jenny again in our senior year and asked what was her new major. “I’m going to be a math teacher,” she said. Those who can’t do…
Here is an article from City Journal on math education. Perhaps I’ll give away the punchline when I tell you that “educators” spoken of in the article invented the phrase “deep conceptual understanding.”
Try not to read this article with any sharp objects in hand or within reach. You have been warned!
Some schools acknowledge that a large proportion of kids will do poorly on math, and will hence have lower GPAs. Solution? Have them donate to the school. 20 points for each $20 on the final exam. Full story here; sent in by long-time reader Ari.