Study: Students with Higher Math Skills More Likely to Plan to Attend College

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.

Results from a recent study of more than 13,000 high school seniors
from the class of 2004 showed that students with higher levels of math
skills had higher expectations for earning postsecondary education
degrees.

The study was conducted by RTI International as part of a contract with
the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education
Statistics (NCES).

The report, published in October 2005 is a follow-up to a 2002 study of
the reading and math achievements of more than 15,000 10th graders
nationwide in both public and private schools. In the follow-up study,
conducted in the spring of 2004, the same students were interviewed,
this time as high school seniors.

“The senior year of high school marks a crossroads where youths must
make choices about their future,” said Daniel Pratt, RTI’s project
director on the study. “We wanted to see how a variety of factors
including educational expectations and math proficiencies impacted
students’ decisions to further their education. “

Overall, 69 percent of high school seniors participating in the study
said they planned to earn a four-year college degree or higher. Those
students with higher postsecondary educational expectations generally
displayed higher levels of math skills.

However, the report also noted that many of those students who expected
to earn a four-year degree could not perform intermediate and advanced
math skills.

“Both the study from 2002 and the follow-up study in 2004 reveal that
there is a need to increase math competency of our nation’s high school
students,” Pratt said. “Many students who plan to attend college may
not have the math skills they need.”

Data from the study will be used to help develop educational policies
and practices designed to increase student performance and decrease
drop-out rates.

The report can be downloaded free of charge from the electronic
catalogue at the NCES Web site (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/) as
report NCES 2006348.



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