Doubling up on mathematics classes for a year may help middle school students in the short term, but the benefits of doing so depreciate over time—and are likely not worth the price of missing out on instruction in other subjects, according to apublished by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis.
The study assigned 6th grade students in the Miami-Dade County district to take two math classes, one regular and one remedial, after having scored just below a predetermined cut score on the state math test the prior spring. It compared them with 6th graders who scored just above the cut score, and took a regular schedule with one math class and one elective.
At the end of the year, students taking two math classes scored substantially higher than their peers who took just one math class. However, a year after returning to the traditional schedule with one math class, those gains were about half as large. Two years into a regular schedule, that edge shrank to about one-third of the original gain. And when those students reached high school, the gains all but vanished.
A version of this article appeared in the August 06, 2014 edition of Education Week as Math Education