Algebra: A Challenge at the Crossroads of Policy and Practice

Algebra: A Challenge at the Crossroads of Policy and Practice

Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; Instructional Approaches--Tracking/Ability Grouping
Author(s): Hillen, Amy; Kaufman, Julia; Sherman, Milan; Stein, Mary
Organization(s): Carnegie Mellon University; Kennesaw State College; Portland State University; University of Pittsburgh
Publication: Review of Educational Research
Published On: 12/20/2011

Viewed as the gateway to higher mathematics, post secondary educational opportunities, and technically skilled jobs, algebra has been identified as a serious equity and civil rights issue. Because access to algebra in eighth grade positions students to enroll in a high school course-taking sequence ending in calculus by twelfth grade, the point at which students gain access is also deemed critical.

To provide an assessment of what we know about selective and “universal algebra” policies, including who is getting access to algebra and at what point in their educational careers. Also assessed is the knowledge base regarding what is taught in the name of algebra and the outcomes associated with different patterns of algebra course taking.


U.S. Trends for Who Takes Algebra and When, and What Algebra is Taken

Algebra Course Taking and Student Outcomes Unconnected to Specified Policy Contexts

Algebra Course Taking and Student Outcomes Under Universal Algebra policies

Policy Implications/Recommendations:

Research Design:
Literature review

Students in grades 8-12 in various studies.

Year data is from:
1995 onwards


Data Collection and Analysis:
A meta-analysis of 44 studies, including research published in academic journals, in conference proceedings, or through organizations.

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