Success and Failure in 8th Grade Mathematics: Examining Outcomes among Middle Schoolers in the HSLS:09

This collaborative research project by Keith Howard (Chapman University), Martin Romero (UCLA) and Allison Scott (LPFI) examined mathematics outcomes among students in the base year of the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009. The HSLS:09 is a nationally representative longitudinal data set of over 21,000 ninth graders in 944 schools nationwide. The study specifically examined Algebra coursetaking in 8th grade and whether students performed better on academic measures of algebraic knowledge and psychological measures of math engagement and interest if they took Algebra 1 in 8th grade and failed, or took a lower level math course and were successful. Findings revealed that that students who failed 8th grade Algebra did not differ significantly in Algebra proficiency from students who took and passed lower-level eighth grade math courses. In addition experiencing failure in Algebra in 8th grade was associated with lower levels of math identity, interest, and utility, suggesting a negative psychological impact associated with failing a course. These findings have implications for national education policy and practice. The presentation from the AERA 2013 conference is attached.

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