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Mathematics Education

"Using Assessment Data to Guide Math Course Placement of California Middle School Students"

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Better mathematics screening procedures may help schools choose students for 8th grade Algebra 1 classes who will be able to successfully complete the course, according to a study by the Regional Educational Laboratory West.

Researchers from the laboratory, known as WestEd, worked with eight districts whose schools typically use math proficiency on the 6th grade California Standards Test to place students in middle school algebra. However, students who meet the proficiency cutoff—350 out of 650 points—have only a 40 percent chance of successfully completing 8th grade algebra. Those who score 17 points or more above proficiency have a 50 percent chance of succeeding.

Researchers found, however, that students' scores on a second test—the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project's 7th grade test of algebra readiness—boosted the success rate of those class placements to a range of 69 percent to 78 percent. Typically, those test results are available only after placement decisions are already made.

Vol. 34, Issue 04, Page 5

Published in Print: September 17, 2014, as Mathematics Education
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