More Algebra, Please: Why Your Kids Should Take This Class Seriously

Taking more algebra classes, according to a new study, leads to higher test scores and graduation rates.

A new study suggests that doubling up on algebra classes will help students succeed in school. (Photo: Fuse)
Suzi Parker is a journalist whose work also appears in The Christian Science Monitor and Reuters.

This may not be the best news for kids who despise math.

It turns out the more algebra your child takes, the better he or she will do in school.

More algebra classes, according to a new study, can improve performance on college entrance exams and raise college enrollment and high school graduation rates.

The study, co-authored by researchers Kalena Cores of Texas A&M University, Joshua Goodman of Harvard University, and Takako Nomi of St. Louis University, is the first of its kind to take an in-depth look at a Chicago schools policy that has required some ninth graders to double up on algebra classes.

More: More Time in the Womb = Higher Math Scores

The authors notes in an overview of the study on Education Next that taking more algebra can help improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates for low-performing and at-risk students.

“The central concern of urban school districts is that algebra may be a gateway for later academic success, so early high-school failure in math may have large effects on subsequent academic achievement and graduation rates,” the study reports.

Throughout the country, parents and college kids are taking action.

In Olympia, Wash., moms and dads are taking algebra refresher courses in order to help their children with math. Jami Gore, a math teacher, recently created a monthly “Algebra Class for Parents” after hearing from parents how they couldn’t help their children with math.

Every Saturday morning in Huntsville, Ala., Jerry Shelby, a NASA engineer, offers free math tutoring classes at a local library.

At New Mexico State University’s Math Success Center, thousands of college students who are languishing with math’s complexities are seeking free tutoring from about 40 employed tutors.

“The bulk of our tutoring is for both intermediate and college level algebra, business and engineering calculus, plus beginning statistics courses,” Larry Hughes, the center's director said, according to the El Paso Times. “Each of these disciplines has very different questions. We take any question and try and help the student with it, but we don’t do their homework.”

Since 2008, President Barack Obama’s education plan has focused greatly on making math and science a national priority in order for the United States to compete in a global marketplace.

Whether students like it or not, more algebra is definitely in their future—and that’s a good thing.

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