U.S. students fall behind in math and science


Most educators will say America needs to have a more hands on approach when teaching science and math, and change the way the kids are tested.

"Most of the countries with whom we would want to remain competitive actually don't use multiple choice tests for that reason. They want to see if a student can figure out a problem," says Elizabeth Stage, the director of the Lawrence Hall of Science at U.C. Berkeley.

On Tuesday, Stage and other math and science educators participated in a forum to find ways to promote this change.

Harold Asturias has worked with math teachers in the classroom. He says teachers have one major complaint.

"Not having enough resources or time to have the individualized or small group attention that they deserve," said Asturias from the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley.

San Lorenzo High made changes to the way students learn math.

"In our classrooms we work in groups because it allows us to push for understanding and depth of understanding of concepts," says Estelle Woodbury, from the San Lorenzo Math Department.

Woodbury says when it comes to algebra 1, they rank 7th out of 52 Alameda County schools.

School districts are also looking into the private sector for help. Professionals who are about to retire but want a career change are getting credentialed in order to teach math or science.

Another solution is to create partnerships between schools and community foundations that have clients with deep pockets.

The East Bay Community Foundation is one of them. They match philanthropists with organizations in need.

Woodbury would love to have money to hire more math teachers.

"Keeping the class size small gives us an opportunity to reach students in classes that would normally just hide," said Woodbury.

East Bay Community Foundation: www.ebcf.org

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