Press Release

December 2023

New brief examines disparities in math opportunities for underrepresented students despite success in earlier mathematics courses

Success in math doesn’t always translate into equitable education opportunities, especially for Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds.

A new brief from The Education Trust and Just Equations examines the pressing need to address long-standing disparities in advanced math opportunities and provides solutions to make high-level courses such as calculus and statistics accessible to all students. 

“Our findings reveal that systemic bias can suppress even the highest-achieving underrepresented students,” said Melodie Baker, national policy director at Just Equations and co-author of the report. “However, policymakers and education leaders can work together to ensure that advanced math is not a privilege but a pathway open to all students, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.” 

Data show that high-achieving Black, Latino, and low-income students who take and pass Algebra I in eighth grade still end up taking advanced math courses at lower rates than their white and more affluent peers. This too often leaves underrepresented students shut out of high-level courses that are typically required to pursue STEM degree programs and careers.

“Taking advanced math courses in high school was so important for opening up postsecondary opportunities for me in high school, but too many of my peers didn’t get those opportunities,” said report co-author Ivy Morgan, director of P–12 data and analytics at Ed Trust. “Our findings and recommendations help further our understanding of the ways in which our systems have denied Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds access to advanced math courses, and ways that leaders at all levels of government can address those barriers.”

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