Disadvantaged pupils receive lower quality maths instruction, report warns

Disadvantaged pupils systematically receive lower quality mathematics instruction compared to their more advantaged peers, a new report from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has warned.

The report found that 65 per cent of socio-economically advantaged students reported to have often heard of the concept of quadratic function, on average across OECD countries, compared to just 43 per cent of disadvantaged students.

PISA advises that exposure to complex mathematic concepts and procedures has a positive impact on performance and while disadvantaged pupils spend about the same amount of time in maths classes, they are less exposed to pure mathematics tasks and concepts that tend to be associated with better learning outcomes.

Research has shown that, on average, the 20 per cent of students who are most exposed to pure mathematics tasks score the equivalent of almost two school years ahead of the 20 per cent of students who are least exposed.

The fact that socio-economically disadvantaged pupils are not equally exposed to these more complex problems at school can contribute to lower performance in mathematics and PISA advises that widening access to mathematics content could simultaneously work to improve performance and reduce inequalities.

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