New program aims to help Vt. students struggling with math

Published: Mar. 11, 2019 at 5:10 PM EDT
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Four Vermont high schools are launching a new math program in the fall with the goal of changing the state's future workforce.

VSAC, the Vermont State Colleges and the Vermont Education Agency teamed up to create the course and prepare students for life after graduation.

Our Christina Guessferd takes you inside Stowe High School to learn about EMC^2.

Some juniors at Stowe High School are taking their last semester of Algebra II, and it's for students like these that EMC^2 was created.

"Any student who ever said to me, 'Well, do you recommend I take four years of math?' I'm like, 'Of course, you cannot get too much math,'" said Karen Meyer, a mathematics coach.

That's the idea behind EMC^2 or Essential Math Skills for College and Careers.

Karen Meyer is on the EMC^2 design team. It's for students who passed Algebra 1 and II and Geometry but struggled. The new offering is for teens who want to revisit these concepts so they can take college-level courses or pursue technical careers. Concepts like units of measurement, rational and irrational numbers, statistics and probabilities, and functions.

"It's very teacher directed in the beginning and very student directed in the end," Meyer said.

The goal being students will learn to study independently, preparing them for the working world.

"Those apprenticeship programs, such as being an electrician, a plumber, HVAC, a licensed nurse assistant. You know they all require some form of math," said Patti Tomashot, a guidance counselor.

WCAX News wanted to talk to some students, but the school said no.

Tomashot says she's seen former students graduate without a firm grasp of math. Even with a diploma, some have had to spend money on night classes or college courses to relearn those skills. Now, she hopes EMC^2 will teach them those skills before they graduate.

"Some students are really self-aware, and like, 'I'm at basic proficient, I know I need to be at this level in order to take this next level of math. What do I need to do?' Tomashot said.

Reporter Christina Guessferd: Why are they able to pass the initial course if they don't have that solid foundation already?

Karen Meyer: Ideally, you wouldn't need a course like this. But that's ideally. We know in any course, in any content area-- let's even take it away from math-- we have students that struggle.

Stowe High School estimates about one-quarter of next year's seniors-- about 60 students-- will take EMC^2 in the fall.