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Math Skills Needed for Job Success Lacking in West Virginia

Robin Capehart

Distinguished for his efforts as a tax reform advocate, consultant, and attorney in West Virginia, Robin Capehart also worked for close to a decade as president of West Liberty University. Today, he serves as a senior resident fellow with the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia. Robin Capehart also holds a position as a senior consultant with Georgetown Solutions, LLC.

In his work with the Public Policy Foundation, he has authored or coauthored a series of papers on a range of topics related to tax, education, and social welfare policies in his state. In a 2013 article on education reform, he decried the state’s recent test scores, which showed alarmingly low rates of proficiency in language arts and mathematics. In fact, he noted, four-fifths of 11th-grade students scored below acceptable levels in math. These very students were set to graduate shortly, and to be faced with the daunting prospect of looking for well-paying jobs.

Numerous studies show students in the United States as a whole performing poorly on math assessments, compared with peers in other democracies. Yet education experts point out that math skills are essential in today’s workplace.

The skills that strong mathematics programs develop include number fluency, computational competence, and logical reasoning, all of which are needed for success in jobs in rapidly growing, in-demand fields such as engineering, data management, and computer science.
That’s why, notes Mr. Capehart, schools need to not only reassess Common Core Standards, but also institute thoroughgoing educational reform.

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