Weak math skills have become a trend among job applicants.  One company in Washington state reported that 90% of applicants fail the company’s math exam.   Educators are working to turn this around by preparing students for math in the real world.

Before job-seekers fill out an application for work making foam products for the aerospace industry at General Plastics Manufacturing Co. in Tacoma, Wash., they have to take a math test.

Eighteen questions, 30 minutes, and using a calculator is OK.

They are asked how to convert inches to feet, read a tape measure and find the density of a block of foam (mass divided by volume).

Basic middle school math, right?

But what troubles General Plastics executive Eric Hahn is that although the company considers only prospective workers who have a high school education, only one in 10 who take the test pass. And that’s not just bad luck at a single factory or in a single industry.

Hahn, vice president of organizational development, said that the poor scores on his company’s math test have been evident for the past six years. He also sits on an aerospace workforce training committee and said that most other Washington state suppliers in his industry have been seeing the same problem.

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Preparing Students For Math In The Real World