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Why Math Skills are Critical for Tomorrow’s Workforce and How to Keep Teens Motivated

Aug 1, 2007

DALLAS – August 1, 2007 – By the time today’s high school students are graduating from college, 6.3 million jobs will require science, engineering or technical training – 24 percent more than just a few years ago¹. These statistics show that today’s middle and high school students will need a strong math background to be competitive in the job market. Yet only 20 percent of the workforce possesses the skills required by 60 percent of all new jobs early this century².

Math teacher and former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Gail Burrill says families can make a difference in whether or not teens gain the math skills that are critical for their future success. She offers the following advice for parents to help their children succeed.

1. Math is important regardless of what teens want to be in life. People with strong math backgrounds are more likely to be employed and earn more, even if they have not gone to college. Math is also an important skill for people in all stages of life to make decisions about such issues as public initiatives, health or property management. Without taking a challenging math curriculum throughout high school, teens’ career options will be seriously limited. Getting a strong foundation when children are younger allows them to succeed in math through their school years and beyond.

2. Support for math education starts at home. Whether or not you enjoy math yourself, children need encouragement to learn that hard work and persistence are important for success. Be sure they attend school on a regular basis. Be positive and inquisitive – ask how things are going in class, encourage your children to work hard and help them find solutions for their difficulties. By becoming involved in your students’ education and expressing your expectations, your children learn that their math education is a priority.

3. Provide resources when math gets tough. Math can sometimes be tough for even the best students, so make sure your student has the right tools for success. For example, research shows that students do better in math when they use a graphing calculator at home and in class, like the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition from Texas Instruments. For additional help with class work, check with your student’s teacher to see if your school provides resources that can help, such as a resource hotline, organized study group, tutoring program, after-school program or even extra credit work. If not, check to see if your state education department or state mathematics organization offers some support.

4. Find ways to show them that math is important in everyone’s lives and interests. Showing students how to relate math to the “real world” will help them to understand why it’s important. Figuring out the remaining cell phone minutes on their monthly plan, how to balance their first check book or how to calculate their grades all requires math skills. Sit down with your kids when you do math-related activities to demonstrate how it affects us on a daily basis. If students know that math can make their lives easier every day, they are more likely to want to learn.

5. Ensure that they take four years of high-quality math in high school. All students should be enrolled in challenging, high-quality math courses. If your student is entering high school in the next few years, plan to work with a counselor to create a strategy that allows your child to take a challenging math course every year as part of an academic program that can open doors for career options. Review your child’s course schedule for the next year and be sure he or she is in the right place in the math sequence to graduate prepared for post-secondary study.

About Gail Burrill Gail Burrill is a Mathematics Specialist in the Division of Science and Mathematics Education at Michigan State University and serves as a senior math advisor for Texas Instruments. She was a secondary teacher and department chair in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for over 25 years and has served as president of NCTM and as Director of the Mathematical Sciences Education Board. Her honors include the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and the Wisconsin Distinguished Educator Award. She was elected a fellow of the American Statistical Association and awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She directs the Secondary School Teachers Program for the Institute of Advanced Study's Park City Mathematics Institute and the Institute's International Seminar and serves on numerous boards and committees in an advisory capacity including the Council for Opportunity in Education STEM Advisory Committee. Burrill is a published author of books and articles on teaching and learning statistics, and she has spoken nationally and internationally on issues in teaching and learning mathematics.

About Texas Instruments Education Technology, a business of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of advanced tools connecting the classroom experience with real-world applications and enabling students and teachers to explore mathematics and science interactively. Designed with leading educators and researchers, Texas Instruments educational technology and services are tested against recognized third-party research on effective instruction and improved student learning. Such research shows that use of graphing calculators and wireless classroom networks in the classroom helps teachers implement instructional strategies that lead to student collaboration, higher student interest, engagement and achievement in mathematics3. For more than 15 years, TI has worked closely with educators and administrators to develop student-focused curricular and supplemental classroom materials, and it supports the world's largest professional development organization for the appropriate use of educational technology. More information is available at education.ti.com

Texas Instruments Incorporated provides innovative DSP and analog technologies to meet our customers' real world signal processing requirements. In addition to Semiconductor, the company includes the Education Technology business. TI is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has manufacturing, design or sales operations in more than 25 countries.

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¹Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2014, 6.3 million jobs will require science, engineering or technical training – 24 percent more than in 2004.

²U.S. Department of Labor

³For information about research showing that graphing calculator use improves students' math skills as well as their attitudes toward math, visit Research on graphing calculators

Media Contact: Liz Edelbrock
GolinHarris for Texas Instruments
972-341-2598
ledelbrock@golinharris.com