Bringing Education to After-School Programs - Summer 1999

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Mathematics in After-School Programs

"America Counts is sorely needed.... today's students must master high-level mathematical concepts and complex approaches to solving problems to be prepared for college, careers of the 21st century, and the demands of everyday life. Not enough young people perform at that level."

-- U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, November 12, 1998


Background. To be prepared for college and promising careers, students need to master advanced skills in mathematics, science, and technology. Indeed, students who take rigorous mathematics courses are much more likely to go on to college and into promising careers than those who do not, and as technology becomes more prevalent in the workplace, the need for employees with mathematics or science backgrounds greatly increases.

However, far too many students finish middle and junior high school without developing the solid foundation in algebra and geometry necessary for success in rigorous high school mathematics courses, higher education, and in our competitive knowledge-based economy. According to international comparative assessments, for example, U.S. student achievement in mathematics falls below average in the middle grades. National assessments, while improving, are not yet at an acceptable level.

By the end of middle school, many students have not built an adequate mathematics foundation necessary for success in advanced courses, which are the gateway to college and promising careers. Although advanced courses are prerequisites for college admission, too few students elect to take them. Many of those who do struggle because of inadequate preparation. Moreover, low-income students who take algebra, geometry and chemistry go on to college at rates 44 percent higher than their low-income peers who do not take these courses, yet low-income students are far less likely to enroll in them. Recent data show that only 46 percent of low-income students take algebra and geometry compared to 81 percent of high-income students.

Workers who have strong mathematics and science skills are more likely to be employed and generally earn higher wages than workers with lower achievement in these disciplines. Some of the fastest growing job sectors. including computer technology and health services. require substantial mathematics and science preparation. Almost 90 percent of new jobs require more than a high school level of mathematics skills.

Integrating mathematics into after-school programs: The creation of 21st Century Community Learning Centers across the country has the potential to enrich the quality of our students. mathematics skills and open the gateway to college and many promising careers.

After-school learning time, especially in middle and high schools, can enable students to strengthen their mathematics skills and understanding in many innovative ways. Students can build upon and further explore mathematics through various enrichment activities. They can investigate more deeply topics of interest, perform extended hands-on projects, and use computers and other technological instruments to help interest them in mathematics.

Extended learning time and personal attention can improve a student's mathematical performance. High-quality tutoring and mentoring programs can help students build conceptual understanding and strengthen their mathematics knowledge base by introducing or reinforcing key mathematical concepts. Also, tutoring provides students with supplementary learning time that can help them keep pace with classroom instruction and stay on track for rigorous college preparatory mathematics.

Learning centers can partner with a host of community organizations to recruit capable and enthusiastic adults with expertise in mathematics and science to assist in creating and implementing these mathematics activities. Businesses, retirement organizations, professional associations, and college students can all be called upon to help improve student achievement.

The national goal of encouraging all students to master the fundamentals of algebra and geometry by the end of eighth grade complements the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. s goals of providing a variety of academic and enrichment activities to students and parents in the communities they serve. Examples of how your Center can help include:



As you think about organizing and implementing your after-school program with a math focus, these materials available on the U.S. Department of Education. s website: Math can be useful to you:

America Counts Overview

America Counts Mathematics Initiative: An Introduction

Mathematics Equals Opportunity

Improving Mathematics in Middle School: Lessons from TIMSS and Related Research

Model Mathematics Tutoring and Mentoring Programs

Yes, You Can! A Guide for Establishing Mentoring Programs to Prepare Youth for College The Formula for Success . A Business Leader's Guide to Supporting Math and Science Achievement, from the Business Coalition for Education Reform

E-MATH: A Guide to E-mail Based Volunteer Programs Designed to Help Students Master Challenging Mathematics, Science and Technology

Self-Assessment Guide for Improving Mathematics: Using Federal Resources for Improving Mathematics Teaching and Learning

If you would like hard copies or if the electronic version is not yet accessible, you can order these materials by calling toll free 1-877-4ED-PUBS, or order on-line by going to

An America Counts Tutoring Resource Kit is currently under development and will be available summer 1999.

A U.S. Department of Education initiative and mathematics improvement in after-school and summer programs: In an effort to improve the quality of mathematics teaching and learning, the Department has launched the America Counts Challenge, a multi-faceted initiative to help all students boost their achievement in mathematics. America Counts focuses on the following six goals:

  1. Provide help, personal attention and additional learning time for students who need extra assistance in mastering the fundamentals of mathematics in elementary and middle school.

  2. Equip teachers to teach challenging mathematics by ensuring that they enter the profession with a solid understanding of mathematics and the best ways to teach it and provide on-going opportunities for teachers to upgrade and expand their knowledge and skills.

  3. Encourage a more challenging and engaging curriculum for all students based on rigorous standards that meet national and international benchmarks of excellence.

  4. Ensure that local, state and federal resources are coordinated in support of high-quality and coherent mathematics programs that hold high expectations for all students.

  5. Build public understanding of the mathematics our students must master to ensure their and our nation's prosperity and growth.

  6. Support high quality research to improve our fundamental knowledge about mathematics teaching and learning.

America Counts Work-Study Program: As one of many America Counts efforts, the Department has started the National Mobilization of Mathematics Tutors. Adults -- especially those with an affinity for mathematics, such as health care professionals, business leaders, information technology workers, mathematicians, scientists, and college students -- can lend their expertise to help students improve their achievement in mathematics through tutorials after school, on weekends, and during the summer.

To jump start this effort, President Clinton has provided an incentive for colleges and universities to commit to the America Counts Work-Study Program by enabling federal work-study students to tutor kindergarten through ninth grade school children in mathematics by paying 100 percent of their wages. As mentioned above, the National Mobilization of Mathematics Tutors, including the federal work-study program, is another option for improving the mathematics component of your after-school program. Contact the financial aid or community service office at local higher education institutions for more information regarding their participation in America Counts tutoring initiatives in your community.

Contact and Other Sources of Information

Program Director: Linda P. Rosen



Fax: 202-401-9027

For more information about America Counts, contact:


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Last Updated -- August 30, 1999, (glc)