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### 8th Grade Math Placement and Achievement

### Preparation, Placement, Proficiency Improving Middle Grades Math Performance

### Findings on 8th Grade Algebra I

### Algebra I & the Common Core

### Pamela Tyson, PhD

Implications for District and State Policy

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) Presentation (April, 2011)

- Trish Williams & Matt Rosin, EdSource
- Jennifer O’Day, American Institutes for Research
- shared lessons and perspectives from the California Collaborative on District Reform (CCDR) districts on student access and success in algebra and higher level mathematics.
- Deborah V.H. Sigman, CA Depart. of Ed.
- explored the implications for CA in light of the recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards, especially for 8th grade math.

Central Issue of Forum

- Placing all 8th grade students in Algebra I to ensure equal access, regardless of prior math preparation.
- What’s the right thing to do?
- And how will the adoption of common core math standards change the state’s expectations around this issue?

CA’s Current and Future Context

- 8th graders may take either the General Math or the Algebra I test
- Rumors of a timeline to phase out General Math Test
- Hope: The Common Core will end this debate by outlining a new view of 8th Grade Mathematics

Matt Rosin

Sr. Research Associate

EdSource

Preparation, Placement, Proficiency Improving Middle Grades Math Performance (EdSource, Feb. 2011)

- Extends analysis of longitudinal data
- Based on data originally gathered for the report
- Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades: Why Some School Do Better (2010)

Data Include:

- 3 surveys (900 items)
- teachers (n=3,752)
- principals (n=303)
- superintendents (n=157)

questions about policy and practices in the middle grades

- 2009 the 7th and 8th grade math and Algebra I CST scores of 70,000 California students.

Pam’s Overview of EdSource Findings

- Participation in Algebra I has definitely increased.
- Schools serving low-income students placed greater percentages in Algebra I.
- Participation for all does not mean success for all.
- What is the proficiency level of Algebra I students?
- How do placement decisions correspond to level of preparedness?
- Survey of District and School Placement Policies
- State policy on 8th grade course taking.

Increased Participation in Algebra I

- From 2003 to 2008 many more 8th grade students take Algebra I

*5% of 7th graders now take as well

EdSource’s Placement Analysis Findings

- The math preparation of incoming 8th grade Algebra I students varied widely
- Many with low levels of preparedness where placed into a full Algebra I course.
- Schools serving mostly low-income students placed higher percentages of students into Algebra I than did schools serving mostly middle income students.

Proportion of 8th Graders taking Algebra I CST

based on incoming 7th grade Math CST

Placement Variations

- Regardless of level of preparedness, schools serving low-income students placed greater percentages into Algebra I in grade 8 than schools serving middle-income.
- At each of the three lowest levels of preparedness low-income 8th graders where roughly twice as likely to be placed in a full Algebra I course as were similarly prepared 8th graders in middle-income schools.

Participation For All ≠ Success for All

- Growth in participation was accompanied by an increase in numbers scoring advanced or proficient
- however there are still many students not succeeding in Algebra I and have to repeat it once or more

Also increase in number of students taking the 9th grade Algebra I course as well

Trends in Algebra I Proficiency

- The number of 8th grade students taking Algebra I is increasing.
- The percent scoring proficient or higher has also increased.

Scale of Change Since 2003

- 1.8 times as many 8th graders (≈ 104,100) scored proficient or advanced
- At the same time, 1.5 times as many 8th graders (≈ 76,800) scored below basic or far below basic

Data Tell Two Stories

- One is about African American and Latino students succeeding when provided access to algebra I in grade 8, where as in previous years that may not have had access.
- Another is about the unintended consequences of placing more 8th graders in Algebra I.

Select Findings from the Placement Analysis

Placement Decisions?

Proportion of 8th Graders Scoring Proficient or Higher

on the General Math and Algebra I CSTs based on incoming 7th grade Math CST

Proportion of 8th Graders Scoring Proficient or Higher

on the General Math and Algebra I CSTs based on incoming 7th grade Math CST

Generally these students did not score proficient or higher on the Algebra I CST, though most scored at least basic.

Critical Question for Research

- The Algebra I achievement of students scoring high basic or low proficient on 7th grade CST presents a mixed picture.
- A portion of these students do well on Algebra I
- we need to find out more about the conditions under which 20% of 8th graders who scored high basic in grade 7 and were placed in Algebra I succeeded in scoring proficient or higher on the CST.

8th Graders In General Math

Many taking the General Math test have limited success.

Students Currently Taking General Math Assessment

- General Mathematics
- Not yet taking Algebra I
- In the first or second year of a two- or three-year Algebra I course
- Taking any mathematics course prior to Algebra I
- Taking no mathematics course

Other Findings on Algebra I Proficiency

- High Proficient: 37% of 8th graders who scored high-proficient in grade 7 and were placed in Algebra I scored no higher than basic on the Algebra I CST.
- All: Roughly 40% of those who took the algebra test scored basic.
- All: Fully 29% of 8th graders who took the Algebra I CST in 2010 (≈ 80,000 students) scored below basic or far below basic.
- More economically disadvantaged 8th graders scored below basic or far below basic on the Algebra I CST in 2010 than took the test at all in 2003.

District and School Placement Policies

Select Findings on District and School Practice

- Districts often leave key aspects of placement to school sites.
- School sites vary in their placement practices – but the most common goal is ensuring wide access to rigorous curricula.
- Schools with higher math achievement in grade 8 are intentional in their efforts to ensure curricular coherence and to evaluate student outcomes and instructional needs.

School Practices with Higher Grade 8th Math Achievement

- Emphasis on select key standards
- The C&I program are designed to ensure all students are “high-school ready”
- Emphasize and set measureable goals
- Informed by review and use of students assessment data
- District prioritizes early identification of students needing academic support
- Places students into general math course in grade 7 and/or 8 take into account prior CST scores

Next Steps?

Mathematics Grade 8

“The California State Board of Education acknowledges that the goal for 8th grade students is Algebra I. However, they also recognize that not all 8th grade students have the necessary prerequisite skills for Algebra I. Consequently, the State Board of Education adopted two sets of standards for 8th grade. The first set describes standards for Algebra I.”

Source: K-12 California’s Common Core Content Standards for Mathematics, p. 33

Mathematics Grade 8 (cont.)

“The second set of standards is from the 8th grade Common Core document published June 2, 2010. These standards are for 8th grade students who do not have the necessary prerequisite skills for Algebra I. The goal of the 8th grade Common Core is to finalize the mathematics preparation for students in high school. There is some duplication of standards between grades and courses that will be resolved in the frameworks/instructional materials development process.”

Source: K-12 California’s Common Core Content Standards for Mathematics, p. 33

Assessment Consortia

- National consortia assessments will be designed to measure the common core released by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers
- Grade 8 CCSS in Mathematics will be assessed
- State specific standards will not be addressed

Pam’s Overview of EdSource Findings

- Participation in Algebra I has definitely increased.
- Schools serving low-income students placed greater percentages in Algebra I.
- Participation for all does not mean success for all.
- What is the proficiency level of Algebra I students?
- How do placement decisions correspond to level of preparedness?
- Survey of District and School Placement Policies
- State policy on 8th grade course taking.

Director of Educational Services

Contra Costa County Office of Education

Ptyson@cccoe.k12.ca.us

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