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Eighth Grade Access to Algebra I: A Study of Virtual Algebra Peggy Clements, Education Development Center, Inc. With study team members Jessica Heppen & Teresa Duncan (AIR), Cheryl Tobey & Katherine Culp (EDC). Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands (REL-NEI) .

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slide1

Eighth Grade Access to Algebra I:

A Study of Virtual Algebra

Peggy Clements, Education Development Center, Inc.

With study team members

Jessica Heppen & Teresa Duncan (AIR),

Cheryl Tobey & Katherine Culp (EDC)

why a study of online algebra i for eighth graders
Why a Study of Online Algebra I for Eighth Graders?
  • Why Focus on Algebra I in 8th Grade?
    • Student achievement in mathematics a national and regional concern
    • Policymakers advocate “pushing down” Algebra I to 8th Grade because
      • Algebra I is a gatekeeper course
      • Taking Algebra I in 8th grade places students on a trajectory toward advanced mathematics and science course sequences
why a study of online algebra i for eighth graders1
Why a Study of Online Algebra I for Eighth Graders?
  • Why study an online course?
    • Access to Algebra I in 8th grade is not widespread and online delivery may be an effective way of broadening access
      • Offering Algebra I is especially difficult for rural schools
    • Use of online courses in K-12 settings is growing rapidly
        • 40,000 to 50,000 students in 2001-02
        • 520,000 students in 2004-2005 (McLeod et al, 2005)
        • Over 1 million students in 2007-2008 (Picciano & Seaman, 2009)
    • Need for rigorous research to establish effectiveness
eighth grade access to algebra i
Eighth Grade Access to Algebra I
  • Designed to determine the impact of offering Algebra I through an online course to 8th graders who would not otherwise have access to the course
    • Not a comparison of online versus a traditional course, but whether offering an online Algebra I course is beneficial in schools where Algebra I is not currently offered to 8th grade students
  • Student outcomes include short- and long-term measures of math achievement
context for the study
Context for the Study
  • Schools in Maine & Vermont that serve 8th graders and do not typically offer a full Algebra I course to 8th grade students
  • Most schools are rural, some located in very remote locations
    • 70 schools (50 in Maine, 20 in Vermont)
    • Average number of 8th graders per school: 29.7
      • Range: 1 to 146 8th graders
      • Half of the schools are very small (serve 16 or fewer 8th graders)
context for the study1
Context for the Study
  • Primary focus on “algebra-ready” (AR) 8th graders
    • On average schools identified 23% of their 8th grade cohort as “ready” to take algebra
    • Does online Algebra I benefit these students?
  • Secondary focus on non-“algebra-ready” (N-AR) 8th graders
    • Does offering Algebra I online to AR students have any unintended consequences for N-AR students, who remain in the regular math class?
policy question
Policy Question

This study is designed to generate policy-relevant evidence to answer the question:

  • In schools that do not typically offer Algebra I to eighth graders, is it beneficial to offer Algebra as an online course?

~ Where “benefit” is assessed in terms of student achievement in mathematics and subsequent high school course-taking, and the delivery of Algebra I online is to 8th graders considered “AR” by their schools.

primary research questions
Primary Research Questions

What is the impact of offering Algebra I online to AR students on their

  • end-of-8th grade algebra achievement?
  • subsequent high school course-taking?

~ The direct impacts on AR students are of primary concern for assessing whether this intervention is an effective way for schools to broaden access.

secondary research questions
Secondary Research Questions

What is the impact of offering Algebra I online (to AR students) on

  • N-AR students’ mathematics achievement (algebra and general mathematics)?
  • N-AR students’ subsequent high school course-taking?
  • AR students’ general mathematics achievement?

~ The indirect impacts on N-AR students are of secondary concern for assessing whether there are an unintended consequences of using this intervention to broaden access.

research design
Research Design
  • Randomized Control Trial (RCT)
    • Schools randomly assigned to treatment or control
      • Treatment – school receives online Algebra I course for their AR students during SY2008-2009
      • Control – school conducts “business as usual” during SY2008-2009
    • All schools identified their AR students prior to random assignment
treatment versus control school year 2008 2009
Treatment versus Control School Year 2008-2009

Business as usual –

8th Grade Math

Algebra I

Online

Algebra-ready

Algebra-ready

ALL 8th GRADERS

ALL 8th GRADERS

Non

Algebra-ready

Non

Algebra-ready

Treatment

Control

student outcome measures
Student Outcome Measures
  • Mathematics achievement
    • Mastery of algebraic concepts test – end of 8th grade
    • General mathematics achievement test – end of 8th grade
  • High School Course-taking
    • High school mathematics and science course-taking (AR students only)
implementation of intervention
Implementation of Intervention

Algebra I Course

Structured lessons and activities- presentations, practice exercises and written assignments

Online

Self-paced

However, over the course of the year students were expected to complete the entire course

Asynchronous (anytime, any place: students do not need to be online at the same time as the teacher)

Online teacher

On-site proctor to monitor students taking the online course

implementation of intervention1
Implementation of Intervention

Online Teacher

Responsible for instruction through online courseware and communication tools

Grades assignments and assessments

Answers questions through discussion boards and internal messaging system

Communicates with students and onsite proctors by reading and responding to messages

implementation of intervention2
Implementation of Intervention

School-Based Proctor

Supervises students during the class period

Provides a supportive and structured working environment

Provides the link between the online teacher, the student, local school officials, and parents as necessary (acts as the eyes and ears of the online teacher)

algebra i course implementation
Algebra I Course Implementation
  • 35 Schools Received the Intervention
school based implementation decisions
School-Based Implementation Decisions
  • Identifying Algebra Ready Students
  • School-Based Proctor
    • 8th Grade Math Teachers
    • Other classroom teachers
    • Principals
    • Gifted & Talented Teachers
    • Educational Technicians
    • Technology Teachers
school based implementation decisions1
School-Based Implementation Decisions
  • Classroom Location
    • Classroom
      • 8th grade math class monitored by teacher who was simultaneously teaching regular 8th grade math course to
    • Instructional space
      • proctored by staff assuming other responsibilities (e.g. GT, Principal, Computer Lab)
      • proctored by Educational Technicians
reporting of results
Reporting of Results
  • Final report scheduled for winter 2010/2011
  • Conclusion of whether intervention is “effective” based on combination of results:
    • Positive impacts on AR students’ algebra scores or the likelihood that they go on to participate in advanced course sequences
    • Non-negative impacts on AR students’ general mathematics scores
    • Non-negative impacts on achievement and course-taking outcomes for N-AR students
for more information
For more information
  • http://relnei.org
  • or email me: pclements@edc.org

Thank you!

content and structure of the online course
Content and Structure of the Online Course
  • Two “semesters”
    • Algebra IA
    • Algebra 1B
  • The course is divided into units and lessons
lessons learning the content
Lessons- Learning the Content

Interactive Textbook

lessons learning the content1
Lessons- Learning The Content

Text with Audio Support

lessons learning the content2
Lessons- Learning The Content

Text with Chalkboards

lessons learning the content3
Lessons- Learning The Content

Mini Lessons – “Chalk talks”

assignments
Assignments

Practice Exercises

assignments1
Assignments

Interactive Applets

slide29

Assignments

Guiding Questions- Applets

slide30

Assignments

Open Ended Prompts

slide31

Assessments

Quizzes and Tests (Password Protected)

analytic approach
Analytic Approach

Two-level hierarchical linear models (HLMs) with students as Level 1 and schools as Level 2

Basic model will capture difference in student outcomes between intervention and control schools, controlling for pretest scores, student characteristics, and school characteristics

Primary analyses will estimate the impact of the intervention on AR student outcomes

Secondary analyses will estimate the impact on N-AR student outcomes