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Middle School Math Acceleration and Equitable Access to Eighth-Grade Algebra: Evidence From the Wake County Public School System

Abstract

"Taking algebra by eighth grade is considered an important milestone on the pathway to college readiness. We highlight a collaboration to investigate one district's effort to increase middle school algebra course-taking. In 2010, the Wake County Public Schools began assigning middle school students to accelerated math and eighth-grade algebra based on a defined prior achievement metric. This policy reduced the relationship between course assignment and student characteristics such as income and race/ethnicity, while increasing its relationship to academic skill. The policy increased the share of students on track for algebra by eighth grade. Students placed in accelerated math were exposed to higher-skilled peers but larger classes. Future work will assess impacts on subsequent achievement and course-taking outcomes."

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