A Study of Core Plus Mathematics Students Attending Michigan State University

Richard O. Hill and Thomas H. Parker: Department of Mathematics – Michigan State University [Complete Study: PDF]:

One measure of the effectiveness of a high school mathematics program is the success students have in subsequent university mathematics courses. As part of a large-scale study of Michigan students, we analyzed the records of students arriving at Michigan State University from four high schools which adopted the Core-Plus Mathematics program. Those students placed into, and enrolled in, increasingly lower level courses as the implementation progressed; the downward trend is statistically very robust (p < .0005). The grades these students earned in their university mathematics courses were also below average (p < .01). ACT scores suggested the existence but not the severity of these trends. Over the past two decades there has been a growing awareness of the inadequacy of the mathematical skills of American high school graduates. That was the assessment of the 1983 report A Nation at Risk [9]. Many subsequent studies point to the same conclusion. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Report [2] concluded that only 17 percent of US twelfth graders were proficient at mathematics (1). International comparisons also indicate a relatively low level of mathematics achievement by US high schoolstudents. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessed the ‘Mathematics Literacy’ of end-of -secondary students in 22 countries and found that US students statistically outperformed only two countries, Cyprus and South Africa [13]. Related studies suggest that the mathematics courses taken by American high school students are often at a lower level than those taken by their international peers, and that US high schools are offering a wide assortment of courses which lack the focus and coherence found in many foreign curricula [14]. This situation has been of particular concern on college and university campuses, where large numbers of students require remedial courses to bring their mathematical knowledge and skills up to what is required for college-level mathematics and science courses.

2 thoughts on “A Study of Core Plus Mathematics Students Attending Michigan State University”

  1. Math Night at Franklin School: On April 25, from 6:30-8:00 in the Franklin LMC, Frankin Principal Deb Hoffman and district math resource teacher Carrie Valentine will present information about math instruction at Franklin elementary. They will discuss math standards, Franklin’s current student performance data, math intervention program, the math curriculum pilot, the school improvement professional development goals, and progress.

  2. It would be helpful if the research base on the effectiveness of specific mathematics programs was extensive and unfortunately it is not. The current discussion surrounding mathematics instruction is extremely important. In my view, one of the reasons why the discussion tends to be so adversarial is that the research base is insufficient to sway the philosophical stances individuals bring to the topic.
    The methodology of this specific study has been a focus of debate. Steffen, I’d be interested in knowing your thoughts on the research design of the study.

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