Developed countries often keep an eye on how their students perform in different areas of school to determine whether they're keeping up with other countries. The Programme For International Student Assessment (PISA), the program responsible for administering these assessments, has discovered that the test grades of American students have fallen since the last round of testing. However, even though reading, math, and science scores have all decreased, nowhere has performance decreased more than with math.
School Structures and Family Schedules are No Longer Compatible
In previous generations, children who were struggling in school could often turn to their parents for help when they got home from work. However, today's economy has changed the face of parent-child tutoring. Gone are the days when parents could guarantee a financially stable household with one job. Now, some families may see parents working two or even three jobs to keep themselves afloat, leaving little-to-no time to assist their children. These children, lacking a resource other students had before them, often have a harder time grasping their curriculum if it isn't immediately understood in class.
Psychotropic Medication Inhibits Performance in Class
Between the years of 1988 and 2008, the use of anti-depressants and other psychiatric drugs has increased by 400 percent in people across America, and it is having an impact on test scores. Amid rampant cuts to mental health funding, as many as 1 in 25 students can be found taking psychotropic medication as prescribed by their doctors, and the side effects of these drugs could be impacting test scores. Among other things, antidepressants are known to inhibit cognitive function, which is necessary for good performance in math.
Lack of Proper Nutrition
Math takes a lot of brainpower, and brainpower takes a lot of food. Not only is it distracting to be hungry, it's important for a child's cognitive function to be at its peak when a child is learning math. Math is a complex subject with many layers, and children need to be mentally prepared to tackle it. But when a child is hungry or receiving inadequate nutrition, their dietary issues can stand between them and mathematical success.
It's difficult to isolate any singular reason why test scores are falling in America. The change has its roots in a number of problems that can be traced back to culture shifts, lifestyle shifts, and health--both physical and mental. If your child is struggling in math, consider examining not just their technical math skill, but also their nutrition, mental health, and familial support to determine if there might be a deeper cause.
What Can Parents Do About Decreased Math Scores?
If your child is struggling in math, Math Genie will help your child get back on track with after-school education efforts that will lay the foundation for a successful scholastic future. Contact us to have one of our tutors give your child the help they need to excel in math today.