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What Problems Lead Students to Failing Math?

by Dr. Nesa Sasser, studioD

Math is the least understood academic subject and is detested by many students. Math often draws national attention as it causes state and national academic performance records to decline. Students fail math for reasons including low accountability, poor parental monitoring, low reading skills and other non-school events that diminish student concentration. Math is either taught incorrectly or students lack the motivation to understand it.

Lack of Motivation

Students may suffer from low self-esteem and low expectations, according to Great Schools. Low self-esteem prevents students from being interested in succeeding at anything. Parents and teachers should ask a counselor for help if this is a problem. Teachers might show a lack of expectation for students by giving low-level work, not following up on assignments and not believing that students have the aptitude to do the work.

Lack of Parental Involvement

Parents can play an important role by setting high expectations and helping the child meet these expectations, according to the National PTA. Parents should seek opportunities for students to receive tutoring and seek outside resources such as Internet resources, books and other media outside of what the school provides.

Improper Teaching Methods

High-quality teachers are key to improving math skills. In an article in the "The Wall Street Journal," Joe Mullich says there is growing need to improve math skills in the United States, so teachers should receive professional development to bolster skills to teach math. Efforts should be made to provide better training for teachers and more incentives for the neediest students, Mullich says; teachers must create an environment for success by having the ability to teach in a variety of ways.

Lack of Conceptualization

Mathematics instruction must provide opportunities for concept building, relevant challenging questions, problem solving, reasoning and connections between the curriculum and real-world situations, according to Education.com. Students who learn these concepts in isolation, termed rote memorization, lack real conceptual thinking skills and tend to not be successful in math. In Empower Network, an author notes that students should learn math in steps and show work so teachers can use the calculations as a guide to where the student misunderstood, giving them partial credit.

About the Author

Dr. Nesa Sasser has served as teacher, school counselor, principal, and college professor. She earned a BBA in accounting from Texas A&M University; an MS in counseling; and an Ed.D. in educational leadership both from Texas A&M Univeristy-Commerce. Her dissertation related to Teacher Quality and Alternative Certification in Texas.

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