MATH MATTERS

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Does your kid have a knack for math? If so, a report released in March by the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides an interesting glimpse of her future achievements. Researchers followed 12,144 individuals from 1988, when they were in 8th grade, to 2000, when most were age 26. They found that half of the students who scored in the upper quartile of their class in 8th grade math went on to earn a bachelor's degree, and 9 percent got a master's. By comparison, only 23 percent of those who had average 8th grade math scores now have a bachelor's degree, and just 2 percent have a master's. And who says being a bookworm doesn't pay? Young adults who were math whizzes in their youth currently earn an average annual salary of $30,461. That's nearly $3,000 more than what adults who had average 8th grade math scores earn, and $7,000 more than those who had low marks. But being math-minded didn't seem to help many score on the social scene. In fact, respondents who had the highest math scores in 8th grade are the ones most likely to still be single today. As of 2000, 60 percent of the high achievers had never married, compared with 48 percent of those who had average math scores and 53 percent of those who had the lowest marks.

GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY

Young adults who placed in the lowest quartile on their 8th grade math achievement tests in 1988 are more likely than higher achievers to have multiple children today.

MATHEMATIC ACHIEVEMENT IN 8TH GRADE, 1988 NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN 2000 (AT AGE 26)
NONE ONE TWO THREE FOUR OR MORE
Lowest quartile 42% 25% 21% 9% 3%
Middle two quartiles 57% 22% 14% 6% 1%
Highest quartile 80% 12% 7% 2% <1%
National Center for Education Statistics, 2002
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