NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Students taking Math, Science -- But Are They Learning It?

February 17, 2000

More than 10 years ago, the nation's governors vowed that U.S. teens would become first in the world in their mastery of math and science. But that has certainly not come about.

Nevertheless, more students are taking those two dreaded subjects, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.

  • The proportion of high school students taking three years of math rose to 63 percent in 1998 from 49 percent in 1990.
  • Those taking three years of science increased to 54 percent in 1998, compared to 45 percent in 1990.
  • But only 88 percent of high school math teachers nationally were certified in that subject -- a decline of 2 percentage points since 1990.
  • As for chemistry, the national rate of certified teachers declined 3 percentage points in the eight years -- to 89 percent.

Council officials are troubled by the fact that there is a shortage of certified math and science teachers in middle schools, where students develop basic skills.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Math/Science Equation Unsolved," USA Today, February 17, 2000.


Browse more articles on Education Issues