LearnBop Community Blog

The Importance of STEM and Algebra Readiness

Posted by Cindy Bryant

Jun 6, 2013 6:28:00 AM

Jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (or STEM) have been on the rise for years now, and are only growing in importance. Currently, STEM jobs are increasing at a rate twice that of other jobs. Knowing this, what can we do today to help our children prepare for tomorrow?

See every day as an opportunity to learn. Current research confirms what experience has already told us—that those who receive a solid foundation in math and reading at an early age go on to receive higher wages in their adult life. The good news is that, at any time, an intervention can bring about change for the better.

Results of a recent study that followed a group of more than 17,000 people for fifty years revealed that the biggest determining factor in the wages they received as adults was not their socioeconomic status as kids--but their math and reading skills at the age of seven. The study also showed that intervention at any step in the learning process could have a huge impact on future success.

Further evidence of the importance of learning math has been shown in the results of another recent study that linked the completion of Algebra II with success in college, and earnings in later employment. Students who complete Algebra II are more than twice as likely to graduate from college than students with less mathematical preparation (Adelman, 1999; Evan et al., 2006).

From the results of these studies, it’s easy to see that math skills are crucial to our future success, and especially so now with the rise of STEM jobs. But what else about learning math allows us to be successful? It could well be that the time taken to learn results in a deeper sense of self-worth, and a greater sense of confidence when faced with new challenges. When an adult takes the time to perform an educational intervention in a child’s life, be the adult a parent, a teacher, or some other mentor, the intervention alone could change the course of the child’s life.

What is intervention, and how do you do it? When talking about kids and learning, the word intervention simply refers to stepping in and making sure a child is actually learning the material presented. Interventions can take a number of forms—it could be the additional help of a tutor, extra time taken with each student on the part of a teacher, or the use of technology to provide extra study.

Blended learning, in which technology is used by a teacher in the classroom as one of many teaching tools, is becoming a popular means of intervention. For example, the automated online tutoring program LearnBop provides extra support throughout the learning process. When a student is done with a set of problems a report is automatically generated showing the student’s exact knowledge gaps, so that a teacher can help the student in the areas that need the most work. This kind of approach has a great potential for successful intervention, since it allows a student to work on the exact skills and concepts they need to be successful.

The same study that showed the importance of math and reading skills in future success also showed that intervention could change a child’s future at any point in a child’s development—be the intervention at the age of eight, the age of thirteen, or even further down the line. These findings confirm a simple but powerful truth: That it is never too late to begin learning, and changing the course of our lives.

Most students lose about two months of learning over the course of the summer, providing the perfect opportunity for an educational intervention. What if you could turn summer learning loss into learning gain?

Prevent Summer Learning Loss


  • Click here to read the Huffington Post’s coverage of the study showing the importance of math and reading at an early age.

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Topics: Implementing the Common Core, Teaching & Learning, Algebra & Algebra Readiness

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