High school students who want to ace the math section of the ACT should brush up on their reading skills, according to an Ohio University study.
Dywayne Nicely, assistant professor of math at Ohio University Chillicothe, says the link between reading comprehension and math skills seems logical, but it's also backed up by research. When a student struggles to solve a math word problem, poor reading abilities are often the cause.
But while most solutions to the issue start at the elementary or middle school levels, Nicely wanted to test an intervention at the high-school level.
"Our pitch was that we wanted to get them college-ready," he says.
With a grant from the Ohio University Baker Fund, Nicely enrolled 63 juniors at Chillicothe High School in his study. He gave the students regular assignments to improve reading comprehension, using online test preparation programs such as Study Island, then set them on ACT-style math questions.
After a course of reading comprehension practice, Nicely found that students in algebra II and pre-calculus improved their math scores by 14.8 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively, over the course of a year.
Those results show that it is never too late to improve high school students' math skills, Nicely says.
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