The Importance of Rigor in the High School Mathematics Curriculum for Success at the College Level
Mark, Zena Blake
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Following the implementation of the Kalamazoo Promise, the city of Kalamazoo was seeing a new population of students going to college. Students who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to attend. With this came the need to increase the likelihood of student success in higher education. The HHMI summer algebra camp and KDO were created as a response to this issue. They were created with the belief that if students could acquire the skills needed to help them perform well in their math classes; they would be able to be successful in higher education. The targeting of middle school students was essential because, that is the time when many students close the door on math. And when they close that door, they are closing the door on physics, chemistry, biology, etc. Camp and KDO are designed to keep students motivated about math. The development of healthy habits starts now. The development of beneficial relationships with people that can serve as role models and help these students get to where they need and want to be starts now. In this paper, we will answer two questions: Why the focus on math, and why the focus on preparation for intense curriculum. I will examine literature on the subject and talk with past participants of the camp and KDO, to see what impact their experiences in these programs have had in their lives. The camp could have been focused on anything. It could have been an English and reading. It could have been a camp focused on community service or leadership skills. But why math? As it turns out, there is much evidence that points to the importance of mathematics education and intensity of curriculum.