SOURCE: Sylvan Learning

Sylvan Learning

September 29, 2011 15:34 ET

The Fear Formula: Sylvan Learning Launches "Fit 4 Algebra" Free Online Tool to Help Parents Assess Whether Their Child Is on Track for Critical "Gateway" Subject

National Survey Finds High Anxiety Among 8th and 9th Graders Taking Algebra Tops List of Worries for Parents Who Struggle to Help; More Than 70% of Parents Believe That Helping Their Kids With Algebra Is Harder Than Teaching Them to Drive a Car

BALTIMORE, MD--(Marketwire - Sep 29, 2011) - As the new school year gets underway, a just-released survey finds high anxiety about algebra among most children and parents.

The findings of the national survey from Sylvan Learning are significant because algebra is regarded by many educators as a "well documented gateway course."1 The designation comes from its importance as the foundation for high school level math and a critical stepping stone to college and future careers -- from electrician to architect.

Among the key findings:

  • One in three students would be quick to sacrifice video game (36%) or Facebook (33%) privileges for a month to avoid taking algebra again.

  • As students drown in anxiety over algebra, parents feel just as lost. Parents feel far more prepared to discuss delicate topics like drugs and alcohol (97%) and even sex (88%) with their child than to help with algebra homework (54%).

  • Doing algebra is harder than completing tax returns. More than four out of five (82%) parents admit that they are likely to make more mistakes on their children's algebra homework than on their tax returns.

  • Six in ten (60%) parents are so unsure of their own algebra skills that they gave themselves a hypothetical grade of C or lower in their child's algebra class.

Dr. Francis "Skip" Fennell, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, believes these numbers could be turned around through simple preparation: "If we can identify student misconceptions, challenges, and struggles earlier, parents and teachers can provide students with the support they need to succeed."

Sylvan Learning seeks to accomplish this with the launch of "Fit 4 Algebra: Take the Algebra Fitness Challenge," a free interactive online "screener" consisting of a 21-question algebra readiness check-up. The skills tested are identified by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel as the basic foundation for algebra.

"Every parent should know where their child stands with algebra and be in a position to help," says Jeffrey Cohen, president and CEO of Sylvan Learning. "We have researched and aggregated some of the best math and algebra resources currently available, and are thrilled to make these resources immediately accessible in one central place."

Sylvan's free check-up is available at Parents of children entering middle school are encouraged to have their child take the screener to assess algebra readiness at the start of a new school year.

For further information:

1 "Access to Algebra I: The Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students (2009)." Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

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