Taking 12th grade math opens door to higher ed

UCLA-led study followed nearly 27,000 L.A. Unified School District students

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs | 

Students who take math in the 12th grade improve their chances of enrolling and continuing in higher education, according to a new report by the Los Angeles Education Research Institute at UCLA.

In partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the institute’s researchers followed the educational journeys of nearly 27,000 students beginning in the 11th grade. Those who took a full year of math in the 12th grade were more likely to enroll in a four-year college and return for a second year, compared with academically similar peers who did not take math, the study found.

The report yields several findings that can inform current debates over education policy in California, said Meredith Phillips, co-founder of the institute, which is housed in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

One key takeaway is the importance of a robust curriculum that allows all students to continue their math education into their senior year, said Phillips, whose research focuses on the causes and consequences of educational inequality.

“School staff, parents and other adults would be wise to encourage students to take these courses, which open up college opportunities and a path to longer-term social and economic mobility,” she said.