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.
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.
A version of this article appeared in the September 17, 2014 edition of Education Week as Mathematics Education