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WCER Study Shows IMP® Students Take More Math in High School

Through the combined efforts and support of teachers, administrators, and parents, IMP students are learning and taking more mathematics in high school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 60% of U.S. high school students completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics before graduating. In contrast, 90% of 1993 IMP graduates completed three years of the IMP college-preparatory sequence, as shown in a recent transcript analysis. The majority of these students continued with a fourth year of mathematics.

These findings are included in the "Cross-School Analysis of Transcripts for the Class of 1993 for Three High Schools," by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), which is a component of IMP's five-year, longitudinal evaluation. The results were extremely positive:

  1. A higher percentage of IMP students in the cross-school study took at least three years of college-preparatory mathematics than students enrolled in the traditional Algebra-Geometry-Algebra II sequence.
  2. For students completing three years of college-preparatory mathematics, an IMP student was more likely to take a senior-level mathematics course (mathematics analysis, trigonometry/analytic geometry, precalculus, or calculus) than a student in the traditional algebra course sequence.
  3. A separate study done at one of the three high schools targeted students who were classified as "high achievers" in mathematics, based on a 7th grade mathematics skills test. Although IMP and algebra students had comparable pretest results, the IMP students fared better both on their overall high school grade point average and on the SAT mathematics section.

All of these results were statistically significant at the .01 level, except for the SAT data. Each of these three results is discussed further below, following background information on demographics and IMP enrollment.

Demographics

Transcripts of a total of 1,121 students were analyzed. Across the three high schools, the student population was 53% female and 47% male. The breakdown by ethnicity was as follows:

  • 16% African-American
  • 16% Asian/Filipino/Pacific Islanders
  • 42% Caucasian
  • 0.6% Native American
  • 20% Latino
  • 5% "Other"

Student Enrollment in IMP

IMP Students Take More Math Than Algebra Students

WCER cross-school data graphs compares IMP students to Algebra students, defining these groups by their ninth grade course enrollment. Both graphs show the percentage of students in each group who completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics.



Class of 1993 School 1 School 2 School 3
IMP
89%
94%
77%
Algebra
69%
76%
69%

At all three schools, more IMP students than Algebra students completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics.



Grouping students by gender, more IMP students than Algebra students completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics.

Each school developed its own criteria for assigning students to the IMP course sequence. Some students who enrolled in IMP classes would have otherwise gone into an algebra I course, while others would have enrolled in some form of a pre-algebra course. Thus, comparing the performance of IMP students to that of students in a traditional algebra sequence represents a more rigorous comparison, in that the more open enrollment requirements of IMP are not taken into consideration.

1. A higher percentage of IMP students in the cross-school study took at least three years of college-preparatory mathematics than students enrolled in the traditional Algebra-Geometry-Algebra II sequence.

In the WCER cross-school study of the Class of 1993, 90% of students who began IMP in grade 9 at the three high schools completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics, compared to 74% of students who began the algebra sequence in grade 9 (see top chart at right).

This finding was true for both female and male students (see bottom chart at right). It was also true for all ethnic groups of significant size, at each of the three schools in the study. In particular:

  • Overall, among African-American students, 79% of those in the IMP program completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics, compared to 51% for African-American students in the algebra sequence.
  • Overall, among Latino students, 80% of those in the IMP program completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics, compared to 62% for Latino students in the algebra sequence.
  • Overall, among Caucasian students, 94% of those in the IMP program completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics, compared to 82% of Caucasian students in the algebra sequence.

2. For students completing three years of college-preparatory mathematics, an IMP student was more likely to take a senior-level mathematics course (mathematics analysis, trigonometry/analytic geometry, precalculus, or calculus) than a student in the traditional algebra course sequence.

Among students who completed three years of college-preparatory mathematics, 71% of IMP students went on to complete an advanced mathematics course (one of those listed above), as compared with 52% of students in the algebra sequence.

The finding that IMP students were more likely to take advanced mathematics courses was true at each of the three schools for both females and males and for each ethnic group of more than 20 students.

3. A separate study done at one of the three high schools targeted students who were classified as "high achievers" in mathematics, based on a 7th-grade mathematics skills test. Although IMP and algebra students had comparable pretest results, the IMP students fared better both on grade point average and on the SAT mathematics section.

Only one of the three high schools had achievement data for students prior to entering high school. This information (Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, 7th-grade level) was used for a study of "high-achieving" students, which examined those students who had scored in the upper 25th percentile based on national norms. The two groups studied—IMP and algebra—were comparable in mathematics achievement on that test.

The two groups were compared on overall grade point average, on mathematics grade point average, and on the basis of scores on the SAT mathematics section. In all three measures, these high-achieving students fared better, on average, taking IMP than taking the algebra sequence.

In the comparison of grade point averages, IMP students did better in both overall grade point average and in mathematics grade point average than students taking the algebra sequence, and this finding held true for all ethnic groups. Even adjusting for higher mathematics grades, IMP students still maintained higher overall grade point averages than algebra students.

IMP students taking the SAT test had a higher mean mathematics score (545 compared to 531) than algebra students, even though a higher proportion of IMP students took the test (83% compared to 72%). Of students taking the test, IMP students also had a higher percentage of students doing "very well" (600 or higher) than the algebra students.

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