Professors Claim Incoming Students Can’t Do 9th-Grade Level Math After Pandemic Interruptions

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Multiple university professors say their students cannot perform basic high school math, citing the pandemic as the main culprit, according to Thursday reports.

Notable universities such as George Mason and Temple have seen aspiring engineering and pre-med students struggle with introductory algebra, Fox News reported. Many students a have been placed into “pre-college math” in hopes that they will gain the skills necessary to continue to introductory calculus. (RELATED: Not One Student Was Proficient In Math In 23 Baltimore Schools: REPORT)

George Mason University has seen a significant number of students drop math classes after not being able to keep pace with the coursework. To strengthen students’ mathematical foundations, the university has started a week-long Math Bootcamp.

“This is a huge issue,” Maria Emelianenko, who chairs the George Mason University math department, told The Associated Press, “We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third.”

Some students agree that the pandemic stymied their ability to learn basic mathematics.

“I didn’t have a hands-on, in-person class, and the information wasn’t really there,” said Diego Fonseca, a 19-year-old student at George Mason, according to Fox. “I really struggled when it came to higher-level algebra because I just didn’t know anything.”

Jessica Babcock, a Temple University math professor, said that the severity of the problem became apparent when she realized many of her students were incapable of doing rudimentary algebra problems. An intro quiz, which Babcock described as an “easy grade,” asked students to calculate problems such as negative six minus eight, but she found that “[n]o two papers had the same answer, and none of them were correct,” according to Fox. “It was a striking moment of, like, wow — this is significant and deep,” she added, per the outlet.

Temple has restructured their algebra course to meet the new challenge.

“We really want students to feel like they’re part of their learning,” Babcock said, according to Fox. “We can’t change their preparation coming in, but we can work to meet their needs in the best way possible.”