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It’s the math

August 29, 2014

Let me begin with the conclusion: A student who wants to become an engineer or scientist or economist or quant or other kind of nerd, has to develop their math chops early. There is no other way. That is the smart conclusion from the dismal result of Illinois’s attempt to get high school students taking more science courses. The schools taught more science. But no more students went to college. ACT VP Scott Montgomery writes that “the results suggest that more advanced coursework alone is not enough to improve student learning or college going.” But that ignores the key finding of their own research:

The law had little effect on trends in math course taking, but low-ranking students did take more science classes.

So, yeah, students were taking more high school science courses. But they were not learning more math. And it’s the math that makes a long-term difference. 

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