"[This] allows a student to figure out the most cost-effective way to package and ship a product or which car is really a better buy -- the kind of problems people face in the workplace and in their personal lives," Barrett said. "When skills are taught in isolation, many students are unable to transfer their knowledge beyond the end of a chapter.
"Rules and formulas are soon forgotten if they are not connected to real-world situations that are often messy and require knowledge, but also reasoning and modeling and persistence before settling on a solution that can be defended with numbers, words or some other representation," she said. "If students 'do' math in school instead of just study math, the number of students who are likely to succeed in college and/or the workplace should increase."
During developmental workshops, Barrett said, she often hears teachers say things like, "I wish I learned it this way when I was in school," and "This makes so much more sense to me now."
It's not an easy transition, though.
"The new standards are challenging for teachers, as well. It's difficult to teach in a way that is profoundly different from your experience as a learner. Teachers across the state have been deepening their own understanding of mathematics as they learn about the new standards," she said.
The new standards already have been implemented in the state's kindergarten and first-grade classes, and second-grade teachers are rolling the program out now. By fall 2014, all grades will have made the change.
"The new standards are challenging," Barrett said, "but students should graduate more competent, more confident and more likely to succeed in the workplace."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.