NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Math Students Higher Achievers

October 20, 1997

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education says that high school students who take algebra, geometry and other rigorous math courses are much more likely to be successful in college and later in the workplace.

Moreover, such courses tend to equalize the chances of students who come from different economic backgrounds.

  • About 83 percent of all students who take algebra 1 and geometry proceed to college.
  • Some 71 percent of low-income math students and 94 percent of those from high-income backgrounds enter college.
  • Students headed for the workforce with solid math backgrounds earned an average of 38 percent more per hour than those without the training.

Algebra is the gateway to advanced math and science in high school, but most students do not take it in middle school. Only about 25 percent of eighth-graders enroll in algebra, according to a 1996 report.

Japan and Germany offer much more advanced math at an earlier grade, educators report.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Math Cited as Key to Achievement," USA Today, October 20, 1997.


Browse more articles on Education Issues