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Access to Algebra I: The Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students. NCEE 2012-4021 REPORT

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Abstract

This report presents findings from a randomized control trial designed to inform the decisions of policymakers who are considering using online courses to provide access to Algebra I in grade 8. It focuses on students judged by their schools to be ready to take Algebra I in grade 8 but who attend schools that do not offer the course. The study tested the impact of offering an online Algebra I course on students' algebra achievement at the end of grade 8 and their subsequent likelihood of participating in an advanced mathematics course sequence in high school. The study was designed to respond to both broad public interest in the deployment of online courses for K-12 students and to calls from policymakers to provide students with adequate pathways to advanced coursetaking sequences in mathematics (National Mathematics Advisory Panel 2008). This study is the first of its kind to rigorously evaluate the impact of offering an online version of Algebra I in schools that otherwise do not typically offer the course, even though they have students who are ready to take it. For educators and students facing similar challenges, the results of this study may be particularly informative and promising. Results showed that offering an online course to AR students is an effective way to broaden access to Algebra I in grade 8 and later, to more challenging mathematics course opportunities. The study demonstrates that an online course as implemented is more effective in promoting students' success in mathematics than existing practices in these schools. Appended are: (1) Study Design, Study Samples, and Statistical Precision; (2) Measures; (3) Intervention Features; (4) Estimation Methods and Hypothesis Testing; (5) Sensitivity Analyses; and (6) Missing Data and Multiple Imputation. (Contains 77 tables, 12 figures and 61 footnotes.)

Citation

Heppen, J.B., Walters, K., Clements, M., Faria, A.M., Tobey, C., Sorensen, N. & Culp, K. Access to Algebra I: The Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students. NCEE 2012-4021.

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