Correlation or Causal Relationship?


A correlational study was reported in the media that found that students who took algebra and geometry early in their schooling (8th & 9th grade) were much more likely to go to college than those who did not take these subjects early. A Chicago Tribune report of the research is given below in which the results are often incorrectly identified as causal in places. For each of the three underlined examples in the paragraph below, identify whether the phrasing suggests a causal or a correlational link. For any example where it is inappropriately identified as causal, change the wording so that it is correctly presented as correlational. But do not use the word correlation or any variation of it.

Early exposure to serious math, algebra and geometry, opens the gate to college for large numbers of students, including minorities and those from low-income families, an Education Department report said. The report was released Monday by Education Secretary Richard Riley, who said it offers evidence that the choice of subjects determines access to college, not whether the school is public, private or parochial. "These courses demand discipline, they demand hard work and they demand responsibility," Riley said as he released the report. "They make a powerful difference in terms of going to college."