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The New Jersey State Policy Lab has released a new report today authored by Elisabeth Kim, Ph.D., and Vandeen Campbell, Ph.D., which examines high school students’ enrollment in math courses in New Jersey schools. This research was a collaborative effort with the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University Newark.

The study examined the rate of enrollment in math courses between 2016 and 2020 using publicly available school-level data from the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) School Performance Reports. One of the significant findings indicates a clear gap in students’ early access to Algebra I in middle schools with large proportions of racial minority and/or economically disadvantaged students. Meanwhile, students enrolled in schools that were more diversely mixed in terms of race and economic status were more likely to advance to higher level math courses such as Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Statistics during their high school studies.

“Part of the dialogue we hope to see in New Jersey is that of increasing access and enrollment in advanced math courses as well as better preparing and supporting students for success in those courses once enrolled.  Taking advanced math courses improves math achievement and increases the likelihood of college enrollment and access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Closing these gaps will be a critical task for the state and school districts,” concludes Vandeen Campbell, Ph.D., co-author and Assistant Research Professor and Senior Quantitative Director at Rutgers University Newark.

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