Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released a report that reveals some fascinating, but not surprising, statistical data. Findings clearly showed that high school students who take algebra, geometry and the more difficult math courses are far more likely to be successful in college and in the work force.
This is true regardless of family income or whether their education was in a public or private school. Former Education Secretary Richard Riley says this data should help parents and teachers understand that you do the kids no favors when you permit them to sign up for "easy" courses.
Riley believes math may be a great equalizer, and the data supports him. Eighty-three percent of all students who take Algebra I and geometry head to college. Additionally, the kids with a solid math background earned 38 percent more per hour than those who took the easy courses.
Unfortunately, even though algebra is the gateway to advanced math and science in high school, many students do not take it in middle school. A 1996 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only one-fourth of U.S. eighth-graders enrolled in algebra, and low-income and minority students were even less likely to take it.
With our marketplace demanding more knowledgeable workers, our kids need to be given a wake-up call via their parents that one of the best ways to get ahead in life is to buckle down and take the tough courses while they're in middle school. Conferences with teachers will help tremendously in getting the kids into those tougher courses. All of us need to understand that you don't develop champions on a feather bed. Take the tougher road and you'll end up on the high road, which means I will see you at the top!
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