# In the U.S. Math Education Isn't Working...

Among industrialized
(OECD)
nations, only students in Greece, Israel, Turkey,
Chile and Mexico do worse on the
*Programme for International Student Assessment* (PISA)
of math performance than our own.
PISA seeks to measure what 15-year-old students can do in mathematics
(click
here
for the PISA report).

### Why are the outcomes so poor?

There are many contributing factors. Keep in mind that math education is an enormous enterprise (55 million K-12 students, over 200,000 math teachers, enormous textbook publishing industry). Its great size results in great momentum and some large-scale problems:

- teachers teach using the same ineffective methods with which they were taught
- popular textbooks run "a mile wide and an inch deep." They are overstuffed with content and frozen for generations
- failure is masked at every level. Students are moved along, year by year,
whether they
*understand*what they are doing or not - the grading "bar" is never set, but instead is manipulated to show desired results without regard to actual student understanding or achievement

Also, there are classroom-level factors, the *Four Pillars*,
that support our unsuccessful system of math education:

- the approach (not the content) of math education is too abstract and decontextualized
- math education conveys rituals and precedures but not understanding
- metacognitive activity is entirely absent in math education
- there are sociolinguistic facets of math education, invisible to most teachers, that have no impact on many students, but present enormous obstacles for others

### What Can Be Done?

For a detailed analysis of the current state of math education,
findings from the cognitive sciences that are relevant to teaching and learning math,
and a new, modern approach to math education, a
*Computationally Augmented Approach to Math and Problem Solving* (CAAMPS),
see Matt Brenner's:

*The Four Pillars Upon Which the Failure of Math Education Rests (and what to do about them)*