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Study Linking Philosophy Classes to Poor Math Performance Is Misleading, Economist Maintains

04/24/2018 - 11h33

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ÉRICA FRAGA
FROM SÃO PAULO

Evaluating the efficacy of public policies may be crucial, but researchers who engage in this sort of research should be aware of the complex social issues that may not slip perfectly into their statistical models.

At least that's what economist Ernesto Martins Faria, 30, had to say about a study conducted by researchers at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) evaluating the impact of the mandatory inclusion of philosophy and sociology classes in all three years of high school in Brazil.

The study, which was conducted by researchers Adolfo Sachsida and Thais Waideman Niquito and will be published soon, concluded that legislation from 2009 modifying the country's high school curriculum led to a deterioration in the performance of students - particularly low income students - in mathematics.

The study, whose findings were revealed by Folha, compared the results obtained on the National High School Exam (Enem) by students who graduated before and after the change, between 2009 and 2012.

In Mr. Faria's opinion, among the problems that may have had an impact on student performance are the changes in the Enem exam that took place in 2009, not to mention other developments that arose - such as the expansion of the Financial Fund for Students (Fies) scholarship program.

Mr. Sachsida said that opposing views are always welcome, but that the issues that Mr. Faria pointed out were taken into consideration by the methodologies used: "We elaborated tests that tried to take such variables into account and we used methods that are adopted around the world to evaluate the effects that public policies have".

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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