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Global Study Analyzes Parents' Math Attitudes, Capabilities and Students' Active Engagement in Math-Related Learning

Raytheon-commissioned study reveals gap between parental attitudes and behaviors relating to US math education; compares parental engagement across United States, England and Singapore

WALTHAM, Mass., Dec. 6, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) unveiled new research exploring parental attitudes toward math, parents' perceived math capabilities and the level of active engagement in math-related learning among 10-14 year olds across the United States, England and Singapore. Raytheon conducted this study as part of its continuous focus on education and the five year anniversary of the company's MathMovesU® program, which is designed to inspire middle school students to get excited about math and science.

While only 43 percent of 2010 U.S. high school graduates met the ACT college entrance exam "college readiness" benchmark, the study shows that parents can play a key role in helping their children prepare for math and math-related careers. However, the research demonstrates parents must be given the right information and tools in order to provide the required level of support. Eduventures, an independent education research firm, conducted the research during October 2010.

The study reveals a clear trend -- while parents in the U.S. are more confident in their abilities to help their 10-14 year-old children, these children are tasked with performing math at a lower level than their Singaporean peers. This higher performance in Singapore reflected in the survey indicates parents there feel less able to support their children and therefore turn to experts for help. Parents in Singapore are four times as likely as those in the U.S. to hire a tutor. Further, Singapore students are more likely to engage in active math-related learning, which contributes to greater ongoing math proficiency.

"I am excited about this research and the opportunities for the United States to increase its global competitiveness by improving students' math and science experience," said Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson. "This study identifies areas we can explore to help create an environment that encourages excellence in engineering and technology in the future."

"Ensuring that middle schoolers are on-track in math is essential to their graduating from high school college- and work-ready. Parents are a critical factor in this process," said Brian F. Fitzgerald, executive director of the Business-Higher Education Forum. "This research demonstrates that parents must be better equipped with sound information and strategies in order to support their child's math learning."

"Cross-cultural research of math learning activities provides parents and educators insight into how to reinforce the delicate balance of support versus autonomy required for adolescent-age students," said Lia Schultz, senior consultant and research analyst at Eduventures. "Because parents are so influential in the college decision-making process, they have a profound need for concrete information on college preparedness for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pathways."

Key findings include:

  • Parents in all regions lack a clear understanding of their children's math performance, though the gaps are most evident in the U.S. and England. Seventy eight percent of U.S. parents and 76 percent of English parents believe their child performs in the top 20 percent of their peer group in math.
  • U.S. parents are more confident in their ability to help in all areas of math than their peers. However, once middle school-level math is introduced, confidence wanes. Only 45 percent of U.S. parents report a high ability to help with algebra; 37 percent report the same for geometry.
  • While few parents believe they have a high ability to help students with more math concepts commonly assigned to middle school students, this does not seem to deter them from taking the lead role in helping their children. In the U.S., 77 percent of parents responding to the survey say they provide math help while only 10 percent report engaging tutors; trends were similar in England. Forty-two percent of parents in Singapore turn to tutors.
  • Parents may be the most common provider of math support, but those in the U.S. and England are less likely to report receiving information about how to help their child. In fact, 51 percent of parents in Singapore say they receive information from their child's school to help prepare for math exams; only one in four parents in the U.S. and England report the same.
  • While 92 percent of parents in Singapore ensure their children receive extra math instruction beyond regular classroom work, only 47 percent of parents in the U.S. and 48 percent of parents in England do the same.
  • While U.S. students are more likely than those in Singapore to participate in spelling competitions, the opposite holds true in math. One-third of parents in Singapore say their child participates in a math competition, while less than one-tenth of U.S. parents report such activity. One-fifth of parents in England say their child participates in a math competition.

The report summarizing key findings of this study, titled "A Cross-Country Exploration of Math-Related Learning in the United States, England and Singapore: Parent Perceptions and Practices Regarding Math Education During the Middle School Years," is available on Raytheon's website.

Research Methodology

In October 2010, Eduventures surveyed 1,144 parents of middle school age students (ages 10 to 14) with 110 questions related to math education, homework and activities related to math and preparedness for college and careers. The study was designed to allow cross-country comparison of parent information from three countries of focus: the United States, England and Singapore. In addition, 12 scholars and in-country educational experts participated in in-depth interviews as part of the research project.

About MathMovesU

Raytheon's MathMovesU program is committed to increasing middle school students' interest in math and science education by engaging them in hands-on, interactive activities. The innovative programs of MathMovesU include Raytheon's Sum of all Thrills™ experience at INNOVENTIONS at Epcot®, which showcases math in action as students design and experience their own thrill ride using math fundamentals; the "In the Numbers" game, a partnership with the New England Patriots on display at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon; the company's three-year sponsorship of the National MATHCOUNTS® competition; and the MathMovesU scholarship and grant program providing more than $1 million in annual funding to students and teachers. Follow us on Twitter @raytheonmmu.

Raytheon Company, with 2009 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 88 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 75,000 people worldwide.



Corinne Kovalsky



SOURCE Raytheon Company

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