Utilizing 1990 and 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress data regarding mathematics achievement, students' backgrounds, and mathematics teacher practices, this paper examines race and SES (socioeconomic status) related disparities in student performance, beliefs about mathematics, and classroom experiences. Although overall mathematics achievement increased between 1990 and 1996, race- and SES-related gaps were not significantly changed. SES differences appeared to account for some, but not all race-related differences. An examination of classroom practices revealed many similarities in students' experiences that were consistent with the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) Standards, such as group work and manipulative use. However, other aspects of mathematics instruction, such as the role of calculators, type of assessment used, and teacher emphasis on reasoning were found to correlate with both SES and race, and the correlation with race persisted even after controlling for SES. The results suggest that white, middle class students are experiencing more of the fundamental shifts called for in the Standards. However, the paper raises cautions about concluding that such instructional differences are causing the race- and SES-related gaps in achievement. The findings emphasize the need to find ways of enhancing the mathematical problem solving skills of lower-SES and African American students. (Contains 23 references and 5 tables.) (Author/MM)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Seattle, WA, April 10-14, 2001).