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ERIC Number: ED567123
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 12
Using Assessment Data to Guide Math Course Placement of California Middle School Students
Huang, Chun-Wei; Snipes, Jason; Finkelstein, Neal
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Middle school math placement and progression are topics that are part of an active policy and practice discussion in California and elsewhere. Beginning in the 2008/09 school year, California's State Board of Education recommended that students complete algebra I by the end of grade 8. Between 2003 and 2009 the proportion of grade 8 students taking algebra I rose from 32 percent to 54 percent (Williams et al., 2011). This increase resulted in a larger percentage of grade 8 students scoring "proficient" or "advanced" (achieving proficiency) on the algebra I California Standards Test (CST; see box 1 for definitions of key terms used in this report) and in a larger number of grade 8 students scoring "far below basic" or "below basic" on the test (Williams et al., 2011). Recent studies show that enrolling in algebra I in grade 8 works well for some students but backfires for others. The consequences of misplacement are most pronounced for students with weaknesses in key foundational areas that support algebra readiness, which frequently translates into difficulty reaching proficiency in higher level math in high school (Finkelstein et al., 2012). One study of California students concludes that placing all grade 8 students in algebra I, regardless of their preparation, sets up many students to fail (Williams et al., 2011). Recent longitudinal analysis of California statewide assessment data suggests that students who do not take algebra I in grade 8 but are successful in general math have a better chance of succeeding in algebra I when they wait until grade 9 (Liang, Heckman, & Abedi, 2012). Tables and figures are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; Grade 8; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: California