NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

MATH STANDARDS DECLINE IN CALIFORNIA

August 5, 2004

The recent outcry over outsourcing jobs to countries like China and India has overlooked a major factor: low-quality American education. American companies, faced with an undereducated employee pool in the United States have begun financing the math and science education of students in foreign countries.

For example, U.S. firms are investing heavily in China:

  • Companies like IBM, Motorola, and Oracle have donated $2 million to Peking University's School of Software.
  • Within three years, the software college will have 3,800 students specializing in subjects like information security, and much of the instruction will be in English.

However, public schools in the United States are not rising to meet this increased competition for math and science-related jobs. Indeed, school districts in California, home of Silicon Valley, are asking the state to waive the algebra requirement for high school seniors to graduate.

California has already reduced the difficulty of the math portion of the high school exit exam:

  • The number of questions asking students to calculate averages, a sixth-grade skill, has increased.
  • Though the test is easier, students still only need to get 55 percent of the math questions right to pass.

State lawmakers will likely introduce legislation to postpone the algebra requirement for at least one year.

Source: Lance T. Izumi, "Cut and Run: California Retreats on Math," School Reform News, Heartland Institute, June 2004.

 

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