Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Elevate Math summer program participants significantly outperformed their control group

Working with a research alliance in Silicon Valley, California, Regional Educational Laboratory West conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of the Elevate Math summer program on math achievement and algebra readiness, as well as math interest and math self-efficacy, among rising grade 8 students. The program targeted students who scored between high basic and low proficient on the grade 6 math California Standards Test and provided them with four hours of standards-based math instruction a day for 19 days in the summer of 2014.

The study found that students who had access to the Elevate Math summer program in the first half of the summer significantly outperformed their control group counterparts in math achievement and algebra readiness. At the end of the intervention, math achievement scores of the treatment group exceeded those of the control group by 0.7 standard deviation. In addition, 29 percent of the treatment group reached a level of math achievement that indicated algebra readiness, compared with 12 percent of the control group.

The study found no significant effects on math interest or math self-efficacy. The findings suggest that summer math programs such as the Elevate Math summer program may be important tools for improving math achievement among rising grade 8 students. But additional support, above and beyond summer interventions, is likely to be needed to ensure students are ready for challenging middle school math courses.

This study demonstrates how school districts can rigorously evaluate their programs at low cost and in a timely manner. In this case, the districts randomly assigned interested students to take the course in the first or second part of the summer. As a result, all interested students were able to take the course, and the districts also obtained rigorous evidence on the effect of the program.

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