Report on mathematics coursetaking and achievement

Robert Bozick and Steven J. Ingels recently published a report called: Mathematics Coursetaking and Achievement at the End of High School: Evidence from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002).

The report is available as downloadable pdf. I have copied the description of the report below:

This report documents and examines the relationship between the number
and types of math courses taken in the 11th and 12th grade and growth
in mathematics proficiency over the same time period. Using data from
the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), the analysis
identifies the coursetaking sequences most prevalent among contemporary
high school students in their junior and senior years, sociodemographic
characteristics of the students who follow these course sequences, and
the association between specific courses and course sequences and
mathematics gains over the last two years of high school. Because most
students (94 percent) entered the second half of high school with a
mastery of basic mathematics skills such as simple arithmetic and
operations, most learning during this time was in intermediate-level
mathematics skills and concepts. For example, the percentage of
students with an understanding of simple problem solving skills grew
from 53 to 65 percentage points over the two year period. In terms of
learning in specific content areas, the largest gains in intermediate
skills such as simple operations and problem solving were made by those
who followed the geometry–algebra II sequence. The largest gains in
advanced skills such as derivations and making inferences from
algebraic expressions were made by students who took precalculus paired
with another course. The smallest gains were made by students who took
one mathematics course or no mathematics courses during their last 2

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