Making Math Count!


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as the stem skills, are critical for an increasing number of careers, but education researchers say some Latino children are starting school behind their white peers. With Latinos accounting for one in four of all kindergarten students, researchers call the disparity alarming. Here’s more on what parents can do to make math count.

A police officer. A construction engineer. An airline pilot. A teacher.  So many things kids can be when they grow up.

Education researchers say by the time Latino children enter kindergarten, they are already behind in the math skills needed to do those jobs someday.

Lina Guzman, PhD, director of Child Trends Hispanic Institute, told Ivanhoe, “There are lots of different reasons but in a nutshell one of the big drivers is poverty.”

Lina Guzman is a demographer who studies Hispanic children and families in the U.S.  Researchers analyzed a U.S. Department of Education survey of 10,000 kindergartners, including 2,000 Latino children who started kindergarten in the 2010 school year. Researchers collected data over five years and found that Latino childrens’ math scores lagged behind their white peers’ by about three months learning when they started kindergarten.

“If one of our largest and fastest growing racial ethnic minority groups in children is going to be lagging behind that’s going to have tremendous implications for our workforce and our standing internationally,” explained Guzman.

Guzman said parents can use daily activities to build a math foundation. At the grocery store, count items as they go into the cart. In the kitchen, talk about math-related tasks, like measuring. Finally, read out loud. It’s another chance to introduce number concepts and make sure that math counts for all students.

Researchers found that among the Latino children who started the year behind in math skills, those who could pay attention and control their behavior made the most progress in math during kindergarten.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.