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ERIC Number: EJ914347
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 19
ISSN: ISSN-1937-0814
Algebra for Everyone? Student Perceptions of Tracking in Mathematics
Spielhagen, Frances R.
Middle Grades Research Journal, v5 n4 p213-223 2010
This research explored the experiences of students in a school district that limited early access to the study of algebra and to inform education policymakers of the impact of such tracking policies on the lives and futures of the students. Quantitative analysis had already yielded a snapshot of inequities deriving from the policies surrounding placement in 8th grade as well as significant benefits deriving from that placement. Subsequent interviews with students provided a vital portrait of the faces behind this analysis. The candid and reflective interviews with these graduating seniors suggest that 8th-grade mathematics experiences impacted their academic and social experiences as well as their future plans. Regardless of their group, the students concluded that the policy of assigning students to algebra in the 8th grade was based on developmental behaviors, like study habits and self discipline, rather than on cognitive ability. Students in both groups criticized the school's emphasis on the state's standardized tests and regarded those tests as basic and minimal. The students also chronicled the long-term effects of studying 8th-grade algebra in 8th grade, primarily the academic benefits of the type and number of mathematics courses afforded early algebra students. According to students in both tracks, algebra instruction for all students in eighth grade would level the playing field and open the gates to advanced study for those students who choose to take advantage of those opportunities. Providing algebra to all students, with additional academic and institutional support if necessary, would diminish the disparity of outcomes and promote more equitable opportunities for all students. (Contains 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 8; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A