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Math education in this country does a disservice to our

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Math education in this country does a disservice to our [#permalink] New post 26 Nov 2013, 06:33
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Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In the lower grades, it should focus on the basic skills that students will need in higher grades to develop the ability to solve complex problems. Learning basic math skills is like learning the scales and chords that one will later use to master complicated concertos and symphonies. However, math educators in this country seem to have it backward, emphasizing in higher grades the same narrow, skills- based approach that students learned in lower grades rather than the analytical tools they will need to solve complex math problems.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the conclusion drawn above?

(A) While music is common in elementary school curriculums, it is rarely taught in high school.
(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.
(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify totake advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.
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Re: Math education in this country does a disservice to our [#permalink] New post 26 Nov 2013, 10:00
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nikhil.jones.s wrote:
Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In the lower grades, it should focus on the basic skills that students will need in higher grades to develop the ability to solve complex problems. Learning basic math skills is like learning the scales and chords that one will later use to master complicated concertos and symphonies. However, math educators in this country seem to have it backward, emphasizing in higher grades the same narrow, skills- based approach that students learned in lower grades rather than the analytical tools they will need to solve complex math problems.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the conclusion drawn above?

(A) While music is common in elementary school curricula, it is rarely taught in high school.
(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.
(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.

Dear nikhil.jones.s,
I'm happy to help. :-) I'm not sure that I like this question. What is the source? Among other things, the plural of "curriculum" is "curricula", not "curriculums."

Here, the conclusion is the first sentence: "Math education in this country does a disservice to our children." The rest of the argument provide evidence. We would most seriously weaken the conclusion by demonstrating that the educational system serves math students well.

(A) While music is common in elementary school curricula, it is rarely taught in high school.
Pure distractor. Music is mentioned as an analogy, but it's irrelevant to the thrust of the argument. This is incorrect.

(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
Tempting, but if the other countries are also poorly serving their math students, and everyone is at a low level together, then it could still be that the country discussed in the prompt argument does not serve its students well. This is incorrect.

(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.
Of course they do. If students of all grades solve the problem the exact same way, that would really show that students were learning nothing. The fact that older students have a different approach and find different solutions could be a bad sign or it could be hopeful --- depending on whether the older students were correct more frequently than the younger students. No clear implication can be drawn. This is incorrect.

(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
This compares apples to oranges. The grades that students receive at different levels are relative to each other, to creates in other subjects at that level, etc. A direct comparison of the letter grades of two different grade levels does not make any sense. This is incorrect.

(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.
Aha! A calculus course in college provides a kind of standard or benchmark against which you can compare different cohorts of students. If more first-year college students are qualifying for advanced calculus, that means they absolutely have to be learning some good math! Therefore, the education system is serving them well. This decisively weakens the argument.

Here's a blog on weakening the argument:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/how-to-wea ... reasoning/

Let me know if you have any further questions.
Mike :-)
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Re: Math education in this country does a disservice to our [#permalink] New post 26 Nov 2013, 10:41
Agree with the OA and nice explanation by mikemcgarry.

B is a trap answer. If international tests do not test complex problem solving skills, then performance of students in this country in complex math skills cannot be compared with that of their counterparts in other countries is illogical.

Choice E avoids such confusion.

Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.
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Math education in this country does a disservice to our [#permalink] New post 04 Aug 2014, 19:11
I'm still going with B.

E) Sure, more people qualify, but there are so many other factors that could be at play here; what if the standards of admission have been going down in this country? What if the curriculum has been becoming simpler to bring the students up to speed?

B) Still not a perfect answer (though saying that it tests "math skills" plural implies that complex skills are tested, it is possible that complex skills are not tested), but more standardized - the odds that there is a confound applying across all countries studied is low.

This question is flawed.
Math education in this country does a disservice to our   [#permalink] 04 Aug 2014, 19:11
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