Mastering basic math skills in middle school is important because it helps students prepare for more difficult concepts in high school. Math is a series of building blocks, so a solid math foundation encourages continued academic growth. Middle school students cover math topics related to algebra, geometry and statistics, subjects more complex than elementary math.
Middle school math covers many algebraic concepts, including linear and quadratic equations, polynomials, and logarithms. Without a solid foundation in algebra, students often struggle in upper-level math courses, such as Algebra II, trigonometry and calculus. Algebra is often called the "gatekeeper subject" because it contains vital subject matter for career professionals, such as electricians, architects and computer scientists, according to GreatSchools.org. Mastery of middle school algebra is necessary for students to succeed in high school math classes, college classes and many science, math, computer, and engineering career fields.
Critical Thinking Skills
Middle school students learn to hone their critical thinking skills. Students must solve complicated word problems, balance equations, and find unknown variables, using problem-solving strategies. Students need critical thinking skills to accurately analyze proportional relationships and solve real-world mathematical problems, according to CoreStandards.org. Students who learn to think critically and collaboratively to solve complex problems are often able to use the acquired skills in advanced math classes, says middle school math coach Lauren Bonsall at MathCounts.org.
Without basic middle school math skills, students often struggle to do well on standardized math tests. Students might not be able to meet minimal grade-level standards and may score below national averages. Most standardized math tests, including upper-level college admissions tests such as the ACT and SAT, include basic algebra and geometry questions that are typically taught in middle school. Students are often asked to find the perimeter or area of a specific shape or find the slope of a line.
The mastery of middle school math helps prepare students for mathematical situations they will encounter as teenagers and adults. They learn skills necessary to: calculate percentage discounts when shopping for sale merchandise, reduce fractions to make half or double food recipes, calculate gas mileage and evaluate simple interest rates. Middle school math also prepares students to keep track of their personal finances and budget their money.
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