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Journal Article: Closing the Achievement Gap in Math: The Long-Term Effects of Eighth-Grade Algebra

Journal Article » Closing the Achievement Gap in Math: The Long-Term Effects of Eighth-Grade Algebra


MATHEMATICS, ALGEBRA, EDUCATION -- Curricula, EDUCATION, Elementary, MIDDLE school students


Spielhagen, Frances R.


2006, Fall2006


Prufrock Press


Recent changes in national and state mathematics standards have increased the level of algebraic thinking taught in younger grades. These changes have prompted more inclusive curriculum designs that open the opportunity to enroll in advanced mathematics courses at younger ages. Of particular interest to this study is the access to eighth-grade algebra, once traditionally reserved for select populations. This study examined long-term academic outcomes for students who did or did not enroll in eighth-grade algebra in one district that implemented an initiative to increase access. The outcomes of students with similar ability, as measured by preassessment in seventh grade, were compared. The groups performed similarly on end-of-course exams in high school math and the mathematics section of the SAT I. However, students who completed algebra in the eighth grade stayed in the mathematics pipeline longer and attended college at greater rates than those who did not. Because of the sequential nature of mathematics course work, students taking algebra at an earlier age have the opportunity to enroll in more advanced courses in the future. Results suggest the need for further exploration of how to provide access and promote enrollment in eighth-grade algebra for students who demonstrate readiness. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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