National Assessment of Mathematics Participation in the United States. A Survival Analysis Model for Describing Students' Academic Careers

Author: Ma, Xin
Researchers have not been able to provide policy makers with reliable answers to their basic concerns: how serious is mathematics dropout in US high schools, and what can be done to stop or reduce it, in concern for the future of a society and work force whose main functions are based more and more on elaborate sophisticated mathematical models, elaborate accounting systems, and computerized data analysis. This study tackles those problems empirically and methodologically. It estimates the probability of students' dropping out, conditional on psychological and sociological variables over a six-year period (grades 7-12); identifies conditions that substantially affect the probability of dropout; traces the development of students' decisions to avoid mathematics courses. It is the first book to employ survival analysis in educational research, and to use national data to address mathematics participation of US students.


"Ma's research examines the secondary school careers of over 3000 American youth. It breaks new ground in that it emphasizes the level of courses taken by these students, and the period in which they take them. It demonstrates how a powerful statistical technique, survival analysis, can be used to discern when and why students stop taking mathematics. . . . This book is a must for educators, researchers, and policy-makers interested in the factors that contribute to success in mathematics." - Dr. J. Douglas Williams,UNB/CIAR research Chair, Atlantic Centre for Policy Research in Education

"His findings about which students actually drop out of mathematics or science prematurely are a significant contribution to our store of knowledge in this area, and his use of the techniques of survival analysis should encourage others to investigate this important domain." - David Robitaille, Head, Dept of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, The University of British Columbia