OPINION: Bill causes students’ math anxiety

By Cher Antido

Math is one of the hardest subjects to grasp and bears the reputation of being the most hated, which is why Assembly Bill 705 shouldn’t have been implemented. 

Many students rush through math even when they don’t fully understand it because they simply want to get it over it.

This method, however, should not be encouraged by schools. 

AB 705 does just this, recquiring students to complete transfer-level coursework in math and English in one year. 

It gives them a chance to pass these courses without fully understanding it, a formula for laziness and failure to comprehend the basics they need to succeed in the world. 

Prior to AB 705, college students had to take an assessment test to see what courses they should be placed in regardless of what they took in high school. 

Depending on how well they did on these tests, they could be placed on a level lower than what’s written on their transcripts. The bill, however, gets rid of this requirement. 

Most students would be discouraged to learn that they need to take Algebra again, but they need to realize that college courses differ greatly from high school. 

It’s easier to pass a course in high school by merely doing the work and memorizing, but the higher the level, the harder it gets.

Students will have a difficult time passing those higher courses without understanding the basics first. 

East Los Angeles College Math Department Chairperson Joe Kazimir said students have complained they couldn’t understand Intermediate Algebra because they have not mastered the basics taught in prior courses. 

“Our Chancellor made a terrible mistake by eliminating all courses below M125 (Intermediate Algebra).

When students are forced to take a higher level of math than they are ready for, this causes stress and anxiety for those students,” Kazimir said. 

The number of years of mathematics students take in high school should not be an indicator that they are ready for higher-level courses. 

When students are provided the path to skip through a course they need, they will take it.

It’s the teachers’ job to tell them it’s not the right way to learn. Skipping the basics will just make it harder for them in the long run.

Grace Flemming, academic adviser and writer for ThoughtCo., wrote an article on why students find math difficult.

She wrote that many think a C grade is good enough and move on to the next level without fully understanding the subject. 

“The outcome of any shaky foundation is that there will be a serious limitation when it comes to building and real potential for complete failure at some point,” Flemming wrote. 

Jo Boaler, math professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, said that “speed pressure, timed testing and blind memorization pose high hurdles in the pursuit of math.”

She said that math anxiety and fear of the topic are the main reasons why students drop out of math.

Students shouldn’t be forced to be fast, they should be told that it’s okay to take their time. 

The problem is that many students see these subjects as something they have to overcome rather something they can enjoy.

Labeling it as “work” adds negativity and stress to the brain, which makes it more difficult to do. 

Many students learn differently than others; some are slower than the rest.

These students shouldn’t be pressured to learn quicker than their brains can manage. 

“The purpose of ELAC is to educate our students no matter how long it takes,” Kazimir said.

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