A report released last month by the Education Trust marshals findings from several large-scale studies of mathematics achievement--both national and international--to argue that improving mathematics achievement in the United States will require a coordinated K-16 approach involving both K-12 and higher education.
The report provides one of the most comprehensive looks to date at what happens to American students as they progress through the system and how their mathematics experiences compare to those of their peers in other countries.
"Add It Up: Mathematics Education in the U.S. Does Not Compute," finds that while mathematics achievement is up at every grade level, these gains are largely attributable to growth at the elementary level. Mathematics knowledge learned in high school actually declined.
Moreover, while the country overall has been making improvements, African American and Latino youth did not share equally in the gains, causing the achievement gap to mostly widen. The report also documents a startling 50 percent decline in mathematics degrees since 1971 and a shrinking supply of math teachers, adding up to a deeply troubling situation for mathematics education in our country. Indeed, the pool of mathematics majors is so small that even if all of them became mathematics teachers, it is unclear whether we would have enough to …