According to this EdWeek story, there is a new study from the Brookings Institution about the effect of student happiness and confidence on math test performance. Based on international test data, the study found that in countries where students most report happiness and confidence regarding math, performance tends to be lower. The U.S. is one of those higher confidence, lower performance nations.
Hopefully no one interprets this to mean that we should make our kids hate math. As the report's author, Tom Loveless, states, "What’s clear from these findings is happiness is not everything." At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I refer you to Engagement, Capacity, and Continuity. Student engagement is one piece of the puzzle, but it has to be connected to the rest of their learning needs. High quality after-school math and science will keep our kids interested, but it has to connect to the classroom and other life experiences.