Why do people think math is hard?

By now you’ve probably heard about the latest research from the University of Queensland.

While there’s a lot of research that suggests the average student learns better math in school, there’s one that’s been getting the most attention: the one that found that high school seniors in Australia’s Northern Territory had the highest number of math problems in the country.

“It is possible that some high school students who did well on the math test may have taken more math than their peers,” a spokesperson for the university told Quartz.

“Our research was not designed to draw conclusions about whether the test results were representative of the Australian population.”

This year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is expected to release the results of a study that will look at whether the high school results in Northern Territory are indicative of a countrywide trend in the amount of mathematics problems students face in primary and secondary schools.

“We found that the high schools where the students were at the end of the school year were also the ones where the most students were not on the mathematics test,” a representative of Australia’s national statistics agency told Quartz, declining to give more detail.

According to a paper published last year, in 2015, more than 100,000 Australian students failed the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math tests, while around 35,000 were given the NAEP tests as a result of the Aged and Schooling Survey.

These high numbers are not unusual in Australia, according to Andrew McKeown, director of the Centre for Education Policy at the Australian National University, who was not involved in the new research.

“The numbers are certainly not unprecedented,” he told Quartz by phone.

“But they’re very similar to the numbers that we see in the US and the UK.”

He said that while the AEDP is not the only way to measure school performance, it is a good way to start to understand where the problem lies in the Australian educational system.

“You might have some students that have done better than the rest and you might have other students who have done poorly, but it’s not the end-all, be-all,” McKeow told Quartz in an email.

“The point is that we know that in Australia high school math is really hard, and that we are not achieving the outcomes that we would want to see in our national curriculum.”

The results of the 2015 NAEP test are due to be released later this year.

In addition to its findings on the importance of math, the researchers found that students who struggled with math also scored lower on social and academic tests, which McKeo said could be a sign of lower academic readiness.

“If you think about the importance to society of a high-quality education and high-level performance, then students who are less able to cope with math, or have a lower level of academic engagement, may be less able, and perhaps less able than their classmates, to perform well in the classroom,” he said.

In a separate report published in May, the ABS found that only 1.3 percent of all primary and high school aged students in the NT were receiving a post-secondary diploma.

That’s a small fraction of the country, but still a significant figure.

“Our findings suggest that while high school achievement is improving, it’s still not at the level of other Australian regions,” the ABS said.

“This is in part because of the high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage in NT schools.”

It’s a situation that McKeows researchers say is not limited to NT schools, but can also be seen in other states.

“There’s a huge gap between the results in other provinces that have a high proportion of primary school students and those in NSW, where high school graduation rates are high,” he explained.

“In some ways, we can be looking at the same situation in the United States.”