IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A new tutoring center in Idaho Falls is working to build confidence in students who struggle with math.
“One of the reasons why we did this is I hear so many young people say, ‘I didn’t go to college or I didn’t take that major because I was afraid of or couldn’t do the math,” Jeff Barnard, owner of the Idaho Falls Mathnasium, told KID NewsRadio. “We’re out to eradicate that. If you don’t want to go into a major or you don’t want to go to college because you don’t like the lifestyle or you don’t like what that major does after you get out of school, great. But, we don’t want you going and saying, ‘Well, I didn’t do it because I was afraid of the math and I was afraid to take the classes.”
Struggling in math is nothing new in the education sector, especially in recent years. According to the Charlotte Observer, almost 2,400 teachers have failed the math section for their licensing exams. While education experts in North Carolina say the failed math sections are likely the fault of the test, Idaho Falls is seeing it’s own trend in students.
According to the Idaho Department of Education, over half of Idaho Falls School District 91 and Bonneville School District 93 students scored at a basic or below basic on their state math exams. Those same trends are seen on a state-wide level too and while those numbers are showing gradual decline, trends like this might point to an increase in private business like Mathnasium to supplement concepts missed in the classroom.
“There’s a certain group of young people out there that get it no matter what, I mean they just have a mind for it,” Jeff Barnard said. “But, there’s quite a few in that next group down that could really get it with a little more understanding, or maybe they’ve missed something in class. Maybe they were on vacation the day that one particular concept was given and it just never clicked for them.”
Brenda Barnard said she’s seen this struggle firsthand while working with students. After working part-time in the school system for five years,
Brenda said she saw the value of something like Mathnasium in providing just a little extra boost in the education process.
“I’ve been able to work a little individually with some kids and you see their confidence level and it breaks your heart,” Brenda Barnard told KID NewsRadio. “They don’t have the confidence in it, when they just need a little bit of a boost, a little bit of extra enrichment or even just extra finding where they’re missing something and sometimes that one-on-one really makes a difference.”
Both Jeff Barnard and Brenda Barnard, expressed their confidence in what educators are doing. But, both still acknowledged the struggles teachers face when trying to reach a classroom full of students who vary in their levels of mathematic proficiency. Jeff Banard said he hopes the Mathnasium can work hand-in-hand with what teachers are already doing and provide that added layer of academic support for teachers working with struggling students.
“You know, they’ve only got so much time to teach and though they would like to go spend individual time with each child, that’s almost possible for them,” Jeff Barnard said. “That’s why we’re here…not to replace them, not to say, ‘Well, we’re better than them,’ but to supplement what their doing and help those children so they can find their gaps and fill them in and get a good, solid base.”
The Mathsasium is set to open in August, before the start of the 2018-2019 school year.