Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Requiring Eighth-Grade Algebra-for-All: Negative average effects on students’ achievement, especially in large districts

The United States is in the midst of an effort to intensify middle school mathematics curricula by enrolling more 8th graders in Algebra. California is at the forefront of this effort, and in 2008, the state moved to make Algebra the accountability benchmark test for 8th-grade mathematics. 

This article takes advantage of this unevenly implemented policy to understand the effects of curricular intensification in middle school mathematics. Using district-level panel data from all California K–12 public school districts, the authors estimate the effects of increasing 8th-grade Algebra enrollment rates on a 10th-grade mathematics achievement measure. 

The authors find that enrolling more students in advanced courses has negative average effects on students’ achievement, driven by negative effects in large districts.

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