Understanding the Effects of Middle School Algebra: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

59 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2017

See all articles by Andrew McEachin

Andrew McEachin

RAND Corporation

Thurston Domina

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Andrew M. Penner

University of California, Irvine - Department of Sociology

Date Written: September 19, 2017

Abstract

We identify California public middle schools that use a 7th grade achievement threshold to place students into 8th grade Algebra. These schools provide 439 opportunities to estimate regression discontinuity effects of 8th grade Algebra placement. We meta-analyze these effects and find small positive effects on students’ high school math and English achievement, and substantial positive effects on high school math course-taking. Further, our analyses indicate substantial treatment effect heterogeneity across schools. Descriptive analyses suggest a positive relationship between treatment effects and average school student achievement and the location of the placement threshold, and a negative relationship with student poverty.

Suggested Citation

McEachin, Andrew and Domina, Thurston and Penner, Andrew, Understanding the Effects of Middle School Algebra: A Regression Discontinuity Approach (September 19, 2017). RAND Working Paper Series WR- 1209. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3055923 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3055923

Andrew McEachin (Contact Author)

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Thurston Domina

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Andrew Penner

University of California, Irvine - Department of Sociology ( email )

2264 Social Sciences Plaza B
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States

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