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

Making Ryan's tax plan smarter
image The teacher evaluation confronts the future
image How to reform the US immigration system
image Inversion hysteria
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 01
    MON
  • 02
    TUE
  • 03
    WED
  • 04
    THU
  • 05
    FRI
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
From anarchy to Augustus: Lessons on dealing with disorder, from Rome’s first emperor

We invite you to join us for two panel discussions on how Augustus created order from chaos 2,000 years ago, and what makes for durable domestic and international political systems in the 21st century.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Multiple choice: Expanding opportunity through innovation in K–12 education

Please join us for a book launch event and panel discussion about how a marketplace of education options can help today's students succeed in tomorrow's economy. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the featured book.

Thursday, September 04, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
How conservatives can save the safety net

Please join us for a luncheon event in which our panel will discuss what conservatives can learn from how liberals talk and think about the safety net and where free-market economics, federalism, and social responsibility intersect to lift people out of poverty.

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