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The research of a University of North Carolina psychology professor suggests, he says, that discrepancies between the traditionally high mathematics test scores of white males and those of blacks and of white females could be reduced or eliminated if teachers and parents encouraged the latter groups to study math longer.

In a study financed by the National Science Foundation, Lyle V. Jones, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and director of the L.L. Thurstone Psychometric Laboratory, surveyed 9,700 students who took math-achievement tests as sophomores in 1980 and compared their performance on similar tests they took as seniors in 1982.

The tests measured skills in computation, arithmetic reasoning, graph reading, elementary algebra, and geometry and were part of "High School and Beyond," the longitudinal study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

In his analysis of the achievement test results, Mr. Jones found that students who continued to take math courses, such as advanced algebra and trigonometry, in their final two years of high school scored "significantly higher" on the 1982 test than students who did not--even if those in the latter group had demonstrated equal mathematics ability in 1980.

"This suggests," the researcher said, "that by providing more equal learning opportunities from kindergarten and grade school onward, we would approach equal performance."

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