Maryland Superintendent Nancy Grasmick said the state’s female elementary school teachers avoid math, causing young girls to dislike the subject.

“I have to say this even though I’m a woman, but many women say, ‘Math isn’t for me. I’m good at reading,’?” she said.

Grasmick said the problem starts with female teachers.

If you go into a lot of our classrooms … there is much more time spent on reading than there is in mathematics,” Grasmick said at a Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee meeting. “And the largest component of elementary school teachers are women who say ‘I’m not confident [in math].’ I’ve had a lot of teachers tell me that.”

She said teachers should begin empowering girls in math by at least the fourth grade, if not as early as preschool.

State Sen. Ronald Young, D-Frederick and Washington counties, said he taught math for six years, and he pegged all elementary school teachers with an aversion to the subject.

“Most of the elementary school teachers were afraid of math,” he said at the education committee meeting. “You can’t teach something you don’t know yourself.”

He said the state needs to develop better training programs for elementary school teachers.

Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s County, backed up Young. Benson taught for 40 years before retiring from the school system.

“If we know that the teachers in the elementary school are weak in math,” she said, “what are we doing to work with the teachers throughout the schools in the state of Maryland so they will have that sense of comfort?”

But Grasmick’s claim is largely unsupported by students’ scores on Maryland’s standardized tests.

The state’s female students in the third through eighth grades have scored higher on average than their male peers in the math section of the Maryland School Assessments for the past five years, according to data from the Maryland State Department of

“In general, both in math and reading, girls are shown to be doing better than boys across a lot of the grades,” said Ted Willard, chairman of the curriculum committee for the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations.

In special education classes, however, the trend was reversed: Female students fell slightly behind their male counterparts on the math section of the Modified Maryland School Assessments.

Chris Barclay, president of Montgomery County School Board, said he isn’t aware of any gender gap between students or teachers in math skills.

“I think that probably the bigger challenge we may have in Montgomery County is — because we have very rigorous math standards — it could be harder for teachers in the elementary level able to teach [advanced students] middle school math,” he said.

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Source: Washington Examiner –