Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Inconsistent math curricula hurting US students, study finds

Date:
June 20, 2011
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
A new study finds important differences in math curricula across US states and school districts. The findings suggest that many students across the country are placed at a disadvantage by less demanding curricula.

A new study finds important differences in math curricula across U.S. states and school districts. The findings, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Education, suggest that many students across the country are placed at a disadvantage by less demanding curricula.

Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Oklahoma used data from the 1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which included 13 school districts and nine states in the U.S., as well as nearly 40 other nations.

"Overall, U.S. students are exposed to a less difficult school mathematics curriculum that places them at a disadvantage when compared to the students in many other countries of the world," write the researchers, led by William Schmidt of Michigan State. "Even sadder, a student's mathematics learning opportunities related to content coverage are deeply affected by where the student lives and in which of the 13 local school districts or nine states he or she attends school."

For example, algebra and geometry are generally taught in eighth grade by international standards. But U.S. states and school districts that participated in the TIMSS varied widely in the number of eighth graders whose math classes focus on those two subjects. In one district, 95 percent of eighth graders focus on algebra and geometry, but in another district, only 14 percent do. A broader look at the data shows the content differences between districts are as large as one grade level. In other words, topics covered in sixth grade in one district are not covered until seventh grade in others.

The study found the variation in curriculum was correlated with students' overall eighth grade math achievement, with students in the less demanding states and districts performing much worse than those in more demanding schools. This was true even after controlling for student background, including a measure of students' seventh grade achievement.

The less demanding curricula tended to be in districts that had large numbers of poor students. The mathematics taught in districts where over 70 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch was about one-half of a grade level behind that of districts in which virtually no students were eligible.

However, the variation in content covered was not just a problem for poor districts. Even after controlling for socio-economic status, significant variation remained, suggesting that the problem is partly "a function of the very structure of the U.S. education system," according to the researchers.

"If these results hold more generally, the U.S. is not a country of educational equality, providing equal learning opportunities to all students," said Leland Cogan, an author of the study. "This is true not only for poor, minority, or disadvantaged students; any student can be disadvantaged simply due to differences in the rigor of the mathematics taught in the district in which they happen to attend school."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William H. Schmidt, Leland S. Cogan, Richard T. Houang, and Curtis C. McKnight. Content Coverage Differences across Districts/States: A Persisting Challenge for U.S. Education Policy. American Journal of Education, 2011; 117: 3

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Inconsistent math curricula hurting US students, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502132903.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2011, June 20). Inconsistent math curricula hurting US students, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502132903.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Inconsistent math curricula hurting US students, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502132903.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

AP (Apr. 23, 2014) Speaking about the future of the United States Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh says the choice to divest the A-10 fleet was logical and least impactful. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins