In an experiment devised by researchers at the University of South Carolina, ninth grade students in a local high school who were tracked into below average mathematics education courses, were taught algebra instead like their peers who were put in a higher track. The low-level mathematics class was what the school called a math technology course and was designed as a review of math skills. Of those remediated students, nearly all were African American and half were from economically disadvantaged families.
For the entire semester the teacher used the college-prep curriculum and treated the students no differently than their counterparts who were ‘tracked’ for algebra. The result was that 44 of the 49 students passed the course.
“All children can learn when given a chance, coupled with effective and culturally relevant teaching and support,” says Rhonda Jeffries, an associate professor in the College of Education at the University of South Carolina, who helped design the project.
Dr. Jeffries added that “students were more confident. They started saying that, for the first time in their lives, they really loved math. This, to me, is a remarkable outcome. That is what teaching is all about.”