Math achievement in the United States will not improve until students learn to accept the responsibility for their own learning.
As a math teacher who majored in math, I am constantly frustrated by the difference between the level at which I would like to teach and the level to which I am pulled by lazy students, parents who are irate over low grades, and administrators who are worried about irate parents. I teach the nicest young people you would ever care to know, but the only group that gives me full effort is my honors class.
People must realize that math is a subject that must be studied. Too often a student will quit because he or she does not immediately grasp the concept. You must go home to a quiet room, and if it takes an hour of studying, so be it.
I cannot do the learning for my pupils. I spend a long time on my lesson plans, I work with them the entire period, and I am available every morning before school to give extra help. Parents are notified every five weeks of their student's progress. That is the best that any teacher can do. Now it's up to the student.