Middle School Math Acceleration and Equitable Access to 8th Grade Algebra: Evidence from the Wake County Public School System
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, May 2015, Vol. 37, No. 1S, pp. 80S–101S DOI: 10.3102/0162373715576076
Posted: 12 Feb 2016
Date Written: 2015
Taking algebra by eighth grade is considered an important milestone on the pathway to college readiness. We highlight a collaboration to investigate one district’s effort to increase middle school algebra course-taking. In 2010, the Wake County Public Schools began assigning middle school students to accelerated math and eighth-grade algebra based on a defined prior achievement metric.This policy reduced the relationship between course assignment and student characteristics such as income and race/ethnicity, while increasing its relationship to academic skill. The policy increased the share of students on track for algebra by eighth grade. Students placed in accelerated math were exposed to higher-skilled peers but larger classes. Future work will assess impacts on subsequent achievement and course-taking outcomes.
Keywords: mathematics education, middle schools, equity, algebra, regression discontinuity
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