How can the United States bridge math proficiency gaps? Ensuring equitable opportunities for students to receive adequate preparation and access to advanced math is critical to the equation. This is due to the clear benefits of learning advanced math in high school, such as increased options for majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, higher rates of college acceptance, and greater opportunities for college scholarships and financial aid. Despite these benefits, a significant portion of high school students are either not being offered the opportunity to take or are opting out of advanced math courses. A recent report from RAND identified gaps in students’ opportunities to access advanced math and provided recommended support to address these gaps.
This report utilized data from nationally representative surveys of teachers and school leaders in kindergarten through grade 12 during the 2021-2022 school year. The findings indicated that fewer advanced math courses were offered in small high schools, rural high schools, and high schools primarily serving historically marginalized communities, and that uneven access to advanced math started before high school. In addition, math teachers who worked in high-poverty schools were likely to report skipping standards-aligned content and replacing the skipped content with material from prior grade levels. A large proportion of K-12 math teachers expressed the need for additional support in delivering high-quality math instruction.
The authors recommend the following to policymakers and education leaders: First, school districts should allocate funding towards implementing high-dosage tutoring programs for economically disadvantaged high schoolers; Second, education leaders should support teachers with high-quality training and standards-aligned curriculum materials; Third, district leaders should collaborate with regional colleges to make high-quality advanced courses accessible for all high school students; Fourth, education leaders and teachers should establish transparency in communication regarding the importance of course-taking.
Source (Open Access): Wolfe, R. L., Steiner, E. D., & Schweig, J. (2023). Getting Students to (and Through) Advanced Math: Where Course Offerings and Content Are Not Adding Up. RAND Corporation. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA827-10.html