The Effects of Grade 9 Mathematics Coursetaking Opportunities on Students' Algebraic Achievement

Date of Completion

January 2010


Education, Mathematics|Education, Secondary




In this dissertation, the effects of increasing the number of students enrolled in Grade 9 Algebra 1 using Grade 8 teacher recommendations and Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test scores on student final grades are examined. Data from 136 students in a diverse, urban school district were used to compare final grades of students who were moved to the higher mathematics track after Grade 8 based on these data to final grades of students who had been in this higher track since Grade 6. An ordinal regression analysis indicated that Grade 9 final Algebra 1 grades can be estimated using the following independent variables: whether or not a student took Grade 8 Pre-Algebra (β = -0.0694, p < 0.05), Grade 8 Connecticut Mastery Test Mathematics scale scores (β = 0.024, p < 0.01), and number of absences (β = -2.136, p < 0.01). Conversion of logits to estimated probabilities using a single independent variable model further demonstrated that although the variable for whether or not a student took Pre-Algebra in Grade 8 was a statistically significant predictor of student final grades in Grade 9 Algebra 1, the probability of students in the group that did not take Pre-Algebra receiving a passing grade and moving on to the next course was 0.80 (compared to 0.91 in the group that took Pre-Algebra). An additional coding analysis of the district's mathematics textbook sequence for lower track students provided information related to the gap in mathematics content that could result from acceleration to a higher track mathematics course. Findings from the textbook analysis indicated that 96% of the content in the Pre-Algebra book, which is used in the course skipped by some students, was found in at least one of the two books before it or the two books after it in the same series. ^