Lee, Valerie E., Croniger, Robert, & Smith, Julia
Course-Taking, Equity, and Mathematics Learning: Testing the Constrained Curriculum Hypothesis in U.S. Secondary Schools
University of Michigan, University of Maryland, University of Rochester
How the organization of the mathematics curriculum in U.S. high schools affects how much students learn in that subject.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Vol.19, No.2, pp. 99-121
- The majority (62%) of students attend schools where between a half and three fourth of the mathematics courses offered are academic.
- Students in low-academic schools average fewer courses in academic math than those moderate-academic schools.
- Evidence that minority and low-performing students are concentrated in schools with less academic focus.
- Measures of school academic composition, average ninth grade GPA, has a moderate and positive effect on average mathematics achievement. Students demonstrate higher achievement in schools where more high-performing students attend. A somewhat stronger effect is shown for average SES. Neither minority concentration nor school size have independent effects on achievement.
- In school where more of the offerings in mathematics are academic, students have higher mathematics achievement.
- Students are advantaged by attending school where they and their classmates take more academic mathematics courses, in schools where more students pursue their studies within a college-preparatory program, and in schools whose mathematics curricula consist of higher proportions of academic courses.In schools like this, students are more proficient in mathematics.
- In schools where most students follow essentially the same course of study in mathematics, achievement is distributed more equitably by social class.
- Students learn more in schools that offer them a narrow curriculum composed mostly of academic courses.
- Authors find issues in the measure used as DV.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Curriculum, High School, Math, SES, Tracking
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Constrained Curriculum Hypothesis: whether a commonality in students' course-taking behaviors and in schools' offerings, centered around a narrow set of academic courses, has positive benefits for students along the dimensions of excellence and equity defined by performance on tests.
- 1990 High School Transcripts Study, conducted in connection with the 1990 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
- Sample of 3,056 high school graduates in 123 schools, averaging about 25 students per school
- DV: Student's score on the 1990 NAEP basic mathematics assessment served as the study's outcome variable.
- IV: Students (demographics (gender, minority status, SES), academic ability (GPA at 9th grade)), schools (demographic and structure (school average SES, minority concentration(dummy for over 40% minority students), school size, academic organization (average coursework in academic math courses, variability in academic course-taking in math, proportion of graduates who follow an academic or college-preparatory program, variability in the percent of graduates in an academic program, proportion of math courses that are academic, average ninth-grade GPA).
- Interested in between and within schools.