Monday, August 29, 2005

Fun With Statistics: The Calculus Gap

From the National Center for Education Statistics we get this interesting little tidbit from the recently released "Nation's Report Card." The graph is from a larger report which takes a look at trends in mathematics course-taking at Age 17 by Race/Ethnicity.

As can be seen by following this link, a greater percentage of White, Black, and Hispanic seventeen-year-olds indicated their highest course was second-year algebra in 2004 than in 1978.

In 2004, a higher percentage of White students took calculus (19 percent) than Black students of the same age (8 percent).

At 14 percent, the percentage of Hispanic students taking calculus was not measurably different from the percentage of White or Black students

To tell the truth, I'm surprised the the percentage of students taking calculus is as high as it is. (Calculus is not an easy subject to study at any age.) Nevertheless, that significant gap between the percentages of white students and black students taking calculus concerns me. What would be the cause, and what would be the remedy?

Food for thought.
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