Fixing Math Class: What We're Doing Wrong

In a new policy brief American Enterprise Institute (AEI) adjunct scholar Jacob Vigdor explains what has gone wrong with American math education and what needs to be done to fix it.

Fact: Test results of American high school students in math are poor compared to those in other countries, and the proportion of new college graduates who majored in math-intensive subjects has declined by nearly half over the past sixty years.

Vigdor explains:

  • Too Much Too Soon for Too Many: Accelerating students in algebra and other advanced math courses does not always improve their math performance. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools, students who took algebra early scored thirteen percentile points lower on a standardized end-of-course test than students who took algebra on a regular schedule, and accelerated students were less likely to pass an end-of-course test in geometry.
  • Dumbing Down Classes Hurts Strong Students: Attempts to close the achievement gap by reducing the rigor of math education have meant fewer top performers are equipped to pursue math careers; the past thirty years have witnessed a twenty-point increase in average math SAT scores but a 25 percent drop in the proportion of college students who major in math-intensive subjects.
  • Different Students Need Different Courses: American students are not all the same, and a rational strategy to improve math performance must begin with a willingness to meet different students' needs rather than a single-minded focus on having all students taking the same classes.


Read the full report here and Vigdor's recent op-ed 'Does your job really require algebra?' here.

Jacob Vigdor
is an adjunct scholar at AEI and a professor of public policy and economics at Duke University. He is available for interview and can be reached through [email protected] or 202.862.5904.

For additional help, other media inquiries, or to reserve AEI's in-house TV studio or ISDN facilities, please contact:

TV Jesse Blumenthal [email protected] / 202.862.4870

Radio Michael Pratt [email protected] / 202.862.5823

Print or Web Jesse Blumenthal [email protected] / 202.862.4870, Michael Pratt at [email protected] / 202.862.5823, or Veronique Rodman at [email protected] / 202.862.4871

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Jacob L.
Vigdor

What's new on AEI

Rebuilding American defense: A speech by Governor Bobby Jindal
image Smelling liberal, thinking conservative
image Stopping Ebola before it turns into a pandemic
image All too many reasons for pessimism about Europe
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Event Registration is Closed
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.