Math skills are critically important to college and career readiness. Low proficiency in math at the elementary and secondary grades has historically been a challenge at both national and state levels. Being prepared for math continues to be a challenge for our students across the board; whether they are pursuing a skilled trades degree or apprenticeship, or a bachelor’s degree.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) continues to focus on this important issue. In the 2023-2029 Strategic Plan, one desired outcome is that “All students are proficient in mathematics by the end of eighth grade, and those who are not proficient receive necessary and timely support to become proficient.”

This data story illustrates the math journey of Hawai‘i public school students as they move through high school and into the University of Hawai‘i (UH) system.

**Explore this data story**

## Overview

Math skills are fundamentally important to many common activities and routines, as well as to career readiness. Not only does proficiency in math help develop analytical skills and problem-solving abilities, some level of proficiency in math and science is often a job requirement in our increasingly technological society.

Math knowledge and skills often build upon each other as they compound over time. Analyzing student math outcomes along the education to workforce pipeline can help us better understand the cumulative impact math skills may have. We can then formulate strategies on how to take action based on data to provide students with supports and interventions to improve math outcomes.

## National and State Math Trends

### National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Mathematics

Grade 8 scores have not recovered since the Covid-19 pandemic.

*For more information, visit the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) website at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.*

### HIDOE Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) Mathematics

Grade 4 students recovered to pre-pandemic percentages; Grade 8 students have yet to do so.

*For more information, visit the HIDOE’s SBA page at *https://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/TeachingAndLearning/Testing/StateAssessment/Pages/home.aspx.

## Algebra 1 Success

To graduate from high school, HIDOE students must complete three credits of math. Algebra 1 is generally considered the entry into high school math. Successful completion of Algebra 1 is critical to completing math diploma requirements and remaining on track for high school graduation.

**Math courses required to graduate high school:**

- Algebra 1 (1 credit)
- Geometry (1 credit)
- Mathematics basic elective (1 credit)

**Typical High School Math Progression**

*Note: Some schools have explored different sequence of courses.*

For the section below, HIDOE analyzed the 9th grade cohorts from 2014-2018 to evaluate their four years of high school math experiences. This also includes transfer students. This methodology includes students who transferred in after the 9th grade, but excludes students who did not graduate within four years, and excludes students who transferred out of HIDOE.

### Completion of Algebra 1

Over 20% of the 9th grade cohorts took Algebra 1 before the 9th grade, while an increasing percentage of students completed Algebra 1 after the 9th grade.

9-10% of the cohorts repeated Algebra 1.

### Completion of Algebra I by Race/Ethnicity

Asian, Filipino, and White students completed Algebra I before 9th grade at higher proportions than other student groups.

**Additional Groups includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic, and Multiple*.

### Average Number of Math Courses Taken After Algebra 1

The timing of when a student takes Algebra 1 impacts the number of courses a student may be able to take in high school. Students who take more courses after Algebra 1 may have more opportunities to

complete higher-level math courses.

### Average Number of Math Courses Taken After Algebra 1 by Race/ Ethnicity

Race/ethnicity differences in the average number of math courses taken persist, even when student groups completed Algebra 1 at the same time. Among students who completed Algebra 1 in the 9th grade, Asian students took an average of 2.4 additional math courses, while Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students took an average of 1.7 additional math courses.

**Additional Groups includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic, and Multiple*.

## Higher-Level High School Math

Although different careers require varying levels of math, completing higher-level math courses in high school prepares students for a wider array of post-high school college or career options. By taking higher-level math courses, students equip themselves with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a broader range of academic and professional paths beyond high school.

For this data story, “higher-level math” are math courses that are beyond what is required to graduate from high school.

**Examples of courses grouped under the various categories:**

**Below Algebra 2**

- Algebra 1 (Alg 1)
- Geometry

**Algebra 2Through Introduction to College Math**

- Algebra 2 (Alg 2)
- Statistics (Stats)
- Probability (Prob)
- Introduction to College Math

(Intro to Math)

**Algebra 3 and Higher**

- Algebra 3 (Alg 3)
- Trigonometry (Trig)
- Precalculus (Pre-Calc)
- Calculus (Calc)

For the section below, Hawai‘i P-20 analyzed the data for 65,414 graduates from the Classes of 2016 through 2021 with math course records to identify the highest math completed.

### Highest Level of Math Completed for HIDOE Graduates

42% of HIDOE graduates completed at least one math course higher than Algebra 2.

### Highest Level of Math Completed for HIDOE Graduates by Race/Ethnicity

There are persistent race/ethnicity differences in the highest level of high school math courses students complete. While 64% of Asian graduates completed Algebra III or higher, just 26% of Native Hawaiian graduates and 24% of Pacific Islander graduates did so.

**Additional Groups includes African American, Hispanic, Native Alaskan, Native American, and Multiple*

## First Year College-Level Math

Since the Class of 2020, about 50% of each graduated class enrolled in postsecondary in the fall after high school graduation. About 3,500 HIDOE graduates enrolled in one of the 10 University of Hawaii campuses each fall. However, enrollment is not enough.

Required Quantitative Reasoning course(s) (courses that develop mathematical reasoning skills at the college level) can create a barrier to college graduation. Students who delay taking their college-level math course may find that they are out of practice with math. This may be especially true for students who struggled with math in high school and are not as prepared when transitioning to college.

For the section below, Hawai‘i P-20 analyzed the data for 22,064 graduates from the Classes of 2016 through 2021 who enrolled at any UH institution in the fall after high school graduation.

College-level math completion, as calculated in the graphs below, includes math completion anytime in the first year at UH and/or prior to entering UH through Advanced Placement and dual credit opportunities.

Postsecondary completion within 150% of normal time is a typically reported outcome. For 4-year institutions, 150% of normal time is equivalent to taking six years to complete the bachelor’s degree or equivalent. The outcomes examined for this cohort included: 1) any college degree or certificate earned within 6 years; 2) continued enrollment in postsecondary (but no award earned) in the 6th year after high school graduation; and 3) stopping out, or no college award or enrollment in the 6th year after high school graduation.

### College-Level Math Completion by Highest High School Math

High school students who took Algebra 3 or higher were more likely to enroll in and complete college-level math before the end of their first year of college.

### College-Level Math Completion by Student Subgroups

More than half of Hawai‘i public school graduates enrolled at UH completed college-level math before the end of the first year of college. Female graduates and students who were never economically disadvantaged in any year while enrolled in HIDOE were more likely to do so.

Additionally, large differences in college-level math completion by the end of the first year of college among race/ethnicity groups emerged. While Asian and Filipino graduates had higher than average college-level math completion rates, just over one in three Pacific Islander graduates completed college-level math by the end of their first year of college.

**Additional Groups includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic, and Multiple*.

### College Completion by College-Level Math Completion

Students who completed college-level math before the end of their first year of college were more likely to earn a college award (certificate or degree) within 6 years.

70-71% of students who completed college-level math by their first year earned a college award within 6 years, more than double the rate for students who did not complete college-level math by their first year (28-29%).

## Key Findings

*The creation of this data story was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant 84.372A (Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems) to the Hawai‘i State Department of Education. The opinions expressed are those of Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.*