In an era of high-stakes assessments, many teachers are expected to teach district or school-mandated curricula with an emphasis on improving test scores, allowing very little flexibility in methods of instruction. However, Talia Milgrom-Elcott, executive director of 100Kin10, points out that when math is made interesting and relevant, students are more likely to engage with the material and their learning will reflect in better test scores.
“This is being seen across the board in the STEM teacher shortage — that if learning is rote and not relevant then no one is curious,” Milgrom-Elcott says. “How kids experience it reflects in the test scores. If we make it omnipresent and authentic, it’ll become a part of their lives and that shines through in their test scores.”
In fact, experts say there is increasing evidence that students respond better when learning is relevant, but shifting to such instruction requires collaboration between districts and teacher preparation programs, as well as ongoing professional development.
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