A Study of Core-Plus Students Attending Michigan State University

Janet Mertz recently mentioned (along with UW Placement’s James Wollack recently) this paper by Richard Hill & Thomas Parker [750K PDF]:

The latest, December 2006 issue of the American Mathematical Monthly, an official publication of the Mathematical Association of America, contains an 18-page article entitled “A study of Core-Plus students attending Michigan State University” by Richard Hill and Thomas Parker, professors at MSU who teach pre-service high school math teachers.
They state that, “as the implementation progressed, from 1996 to 1999, Core-Plus students placed into, and enrolled in, increasingly lower level courses; this downward trend is statistically robust (p<.0005). The percentages of students who (eventually) passed a technical calculus course show a statistically significant (p<.005) decline averaging 27 percent a year; this trend is accompanied by an obvious and statistically significant increase in percentages of students who placed into low-level and remedial algebra courses. The grades the Core-Plus students earned in their university mathematics courses are also below average, except for a small group of top students. ACT scores suggest the existence but not the severity of these trends."

Core-Plus is used in some Madison High Schools. Much more on math here.

3 thoughts on “A Study of Core-Plus Students Attending Michigan State University”

  1. The results of the Hill and Parker study strongly point up the need for a systematic program of study of the effects of high school mathematics education, including specific curricula. Currently, there are very few studies and the data sets have limitations. Knowing at the student level how many math courses a student completed in high school and whether they had in terms of curricular materials seems to me a necessary component for a more definitive program of study. As it is, we have a very few studies that find a positive result for Core Plus and a very few that find a negative result.
    I recommend the Report of the General Education Subcommittee on High School Mathematics Curricula and the UW-Madison Admissions Requirement (2005) to anyone interested in this issue.

  2. On Monday Dec 11th, the Waunakee School Board decided to change math programs for grades 6-12. The board voted 6-1 to offer UCSMP and discontinue Connected Math and Core Plus. “The math debate in Waunakee has ensued for some time as parents have complained about the Core Plus math curriculum, a reform program that they say relies too heavily on calculator use and group work and that it fails to fully prepare students for upper level mathematics courses.” Waunakee Tribune Dec 14th 2006.

  3. This is correct. UCSMP will be implemented at the secondary level over the next three years. When complete, our curriculum alignment in mathematics will be similar to the Hartland Arrowhead system and Middleton-Cross Plains. The implementation plan also contains some changes that are not-curriculum specific to provide more support for struggling students and better information to parents about our mathematics program. There will also be more follow-up with our graduates to monitor their experiences in mathematics at the post-secondary level.
    Some of the information that was presented to the Board of Education is available on the district’s website.
    The discussions around the math program were in depth and sometimes intense. We will be working very hard to make sure that the UCSMP implementation provides a high quality education for our students that all parties can recognize and support.
    Having been involved in our evaluation process, I’ll be very interested to see how MMSD’s develops.

Comments are closed.