U.S. Students Improving Math Performance a Plus for Future Manufacturing Workforce

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According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) report released last month, fourth grade students in the U.S. improved 11 points in math between 2003 and 2007 and eighth graders jumped 16 points since 1995.

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By improving in math, U.S. students will be better prepared to succeed in higher education and in today's global workforce

Manufacturing executives can take heart with the knowledge that math skills often critical for success for those working on the factory floor are on the rise among young people.

According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) report released last month, fourth grade students in the U.S. improved 11 points in math between 2003 and 2007 and eighth graders jumped 16 points since 1995. They now rank at least in the top one-third compared to other countries. TIMMS is an international comparison that measures the mathematics and science knowledge and skills of fourth- and eighth graders.

"This improvement is significant because the manufacturing world of the future is a technology laden one, and those who can't command math and science will be at a disadvantage," says Dr. Chris Kuehl, economic analyst for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA). "If the U.S. is to fill its need for engineers, scientists, inventors and technicians the school system must prepare kids to handle the math, and it appears real progress is being made."

"By improving in math, U.S. students will be better prepared to succeed in higher education and in today's global workforce," says Gerald Shankel, president & CEO of the FMA. "Mathematics also provides a solid foundation for careers in manufacturing. With the average age of the current manufacturing workforce above 50, there will be a wide range of good paying manufacturing positions available in the future for students with the proper science and math training.

"In the past, there has been disappointment with the quality of math and science skills coming out of college," Shankel says. "Our technologies have advanced. For example, we are using laser light to cut metal now, and it requires a person proficient with math and science skills."

Among those capabilities are combined operations, metric conversion, fractional/decimal conversion, angular arithmetic, measurement with rules and gauges, and basic geometry.

The TIMMS study shows there is still room for improvement for U.S. students. The report revealed U.S. fourth grade students ranked ninth and higher than in 24 other nations while eighth graders ranked sixth and better than 37 nations.

Based in Rockford, Ill., Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International is a professional organization with more than 2,300 members working together to improve the metal forming and fabricating industry through technology councils, educational programs, networking events and the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show. FMA also has a technology affiliate, the Tube & Pipe Association, International (TPA), which focuses on the unique needs of companies engaged in tube and pipe producing and fabricating.

For more information contact:
Ben Arens or Gary Goodfriend
L.C. Williams & Associates
(312) 565-3900 or (800) 837-7123

Patricia Lee
FMA
(815) 227-8286
http://www.fmanet.org

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