Using Assessment Data to Guide Math Course Placement of California Middle School Students

By Kevin (Chun-Wei) Huang, Jason Snipes, Neal Finkelstein

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Description

Questions about how best to place students into appropriate middle grade math courses have been central to ongoing education policy and practice discussions in California and across the United States.

Recent studies have shown that enrolling in algebra I in grade 8 works well for some students but backfires for others.

This Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) report provides findings from a study of placements that were based on different test scores available for middle school students in California.

Findings indicate that placing eighth graders in algebra I based solely on their grade 6 California Standards Test proficiency status results in some of these students having less than a 40 percent chance of succeeding.

The study also finds that a newly available assessment of algebra readiness developed as part of the Math Diagnostic Testing Project makes a valuable contribution to decisions about algebra I placement.

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