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Race-Ethnicity, SES, Gender, and Language Proficiency Trends in Mathematics Achievement: An Update

William F. Tate
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education
Vol. 28, No. 6, Equity, Mathematics Reform, and Research: Crossing Boundaries in Search of Understanding (Dec., 1997), pp. 652-679
DOI: 10.2307/749636
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/749636
Page Count: 28
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Race-Ethnicity, SES, Gender, and Language Proficiency Trends in Mathematics Achievement: An Update
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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to document changes in U. S. mathematics achievement by reviewing national trend studies, college admissions examinations, and Advanced Placement tests. This article examined this quantitative research literature to determine trends in mathematics achievement of various social groups defined along lines of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and language proficiency. The findings of this review indicate that over the last 15 years all demographic groups have improved in mathematics achievement--specifically, in basic skills. Moreover, the mathematics achievement gap is slowly closing between White students and students of color on assessments of basic skills. Males tended to outperform females on standardized measures; however, gender differences were small and generally not significant. Consistent with past reviews of mathematics achievement, course taking was a powerful variable, often resulting in similar achievement gains across diverse groups. This finding has serious implications for equity-related policy. The article concludes with two other recommendations: the need for fiscal and cultural policy to support standards-based reform.

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