Mathematics: Which practices impact student achievement? - FAQ

Mathematics: Which practices impact student achievement?

Aiming High and Falling Short: California's Eighth-Grade Algebra-for-All Effort
Purpose: To understand the effects of curricular intensification in middle school mathematics
Author(s): Domina, Thurston; McEachin, Andrew; Penner, Andrew; Penner, Emily
Organization(s): University of California, Irvine; North Carolina State University; Stanford University
Publication: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Published on: 8/26/2015
  • District-level increases in eighth-grade algebra enrollment rates corresponded with declines in average California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) scores, including scores in CAHSEE test items covering basic algebraic skills.

Using Assessment Data to Guide Math Course Placement of California Middle School Students
Purpose: To determine the relationship between students' proficiency on the algebra I CST in grade 8 and two assessments in grades 6 and 7, and how accurately students' performance on these two assessments predicts algebra I proficiency in grade 8
Issue/Topic: Assessment Curriculum - Mathematics Instructional Approaches - Tracking/Ability Grouping
Author(s): Huang, Chun-Wei; Snipes, Jason; Finkelstein, Neal
Organization(s): WestEd National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
Published on: 9/1/2014
  • Most districts use results from the grade 6 math CST for grade 8 math placement decisions. High scores on the grade 7 math CST are associated with higher rates of algebra I proficiency, but these scores are not usually factored into decisions abou...

Spending More of the School Day in Math Class: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity in Middle School
Purpose: To determine to what extent students’ gains from remediation persist after the quantity of instruction they receive returns to typical levels
Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; Remediation (K-12)
Author(s): Taylor, Eric
Organization(s): Stanford University
Publication: Journal of Public Economics
Published on: 6/3/2014
  • Doubling the typical amount of class time devoted to math instruction substantially increases the math test scores of relatively low-achieving middle-school students.
  • Yet, like many other educational interventions studied e...

Student Math Achievement and Out-of-Field Teaching
Purpose: To investigate the distribution of math teachers with a major or certification in math using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09). To show how HSLS:09 can be used to analyze the distribution of qualified teachers in mathematics.
Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; Teaching Quality--Certification and Licensure--Assignment
Publication: Educational Researcher
Published on: 10/1/2013
  • A majority of students in ninth grade have teachers with a major and certification in math. However, 10% of ninth-graders have math teachers with neither a major nor certification. More ninth-graders need expanded access to mat...

Effects of School Racial Composition on K-12 Mathematics Outcomes: A Metaregression Analysis
Purpose: To review the social science literature published on the relationship between mathematics outcomes and the racial composition of the K-12 schools students attend
Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; Equity
Author(s): Bottia, Martha; Lambert, Richard; Mickelson, Roslyn
Organization(s): University of North Carolina
Publication: Review of Educational Research
Published on: 3/1/2013
  • School racial isolation has a small statistically significant negative effect on overall building-level mathematics outcomes.
  • Although it is small, the effect size is substantially meaningful.
  • The effects ar...

The Ineffectiveness of High School Graduation Requirement Reforms: A Story of Implementation and Enforcement?
Purpose: To determine whether the relative ineffectiveness of graduation credit requirement reforms is in part the result of lax implementation and enforcement of these policies.
Issue/Topic: High School--College Readiness; High School--Graduation Requirements
Published on: 8/25/2012
Findings/Results: Approximately 18% of students who received a diploma in 2004 did not meet all requirements in either math, science, or both subjects. Approximately 9% of diploma recipients failed to achieve their state's mathematics requirements and more than 11% fai...

The Unintended Consequences of an Algebra-for-All Policy on High-Skill Students: Effects on Instructional Organization and Students' Academic Outcomes
Purpose: To understand unintended consequences on high-skill students of a policy that expanded opportunities to take algebra for low-skill students
Author(s): Nomi, Takako
Organization(s): University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research
Publication: Educational Evaluation & Policy Analysis
Published on: 7/31/2012
  • Prior to the adoption of the algebra-for-all policy in 1997, schools that offered remedial math were much more likely to segregate classrooms based on students’ prior skills than schools that already offered algebra for all where the degree of ...

Does Raising the Bar Level the Playing Field?: Mathematics Curricular Intensification and Inequality in American High Schools, 1982-2004
Purpose: To investigate the consequences of academic intensification for social stratification in American high schools, particularly focusing on inequalities in access to higher level math courses such as calculus.
Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; Equity
Author(s): Domina, Thurston; Saldana, Joshua
Publication: American Education Research Journal
Published on: 7/11/2012
Findings/Results: Race, class and skills gaps in geometry, algebra II, and trigonometry completion have narrowed considerably over the study period. Consistent with the theory of maximally maintained inequality, however, inequalities in calculus completion remain pronounce...

College for All: Gaps Between Desirable and Actual P-12 Math Achievement Trajectories for College Readiness
Purpose: This study addresses missing links in the current P-16 education and "College for All" debates by investigating gaps between actual and desirable math achievement trajectories for different college pathways. The goals of the study are twofold: (1) to compare performance standards, benchmarks, and norms for college readiness, and; (2) to assess college readiness gaps among all students as well as among racial and social groups.
Issue/Topic: High School--College Readiness; P-16 or P-20
Published on: 3/5/2012
Findings/Results: 1. This study revealed large disparities between actual and desirable math achievement levels for college readiness.

2. Math achievement was a good predictor of whether students in P-12 stay on track toward 2 or 4 year college education.

3. ...

Curricular Coherence and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
Purpose: To explore the relationship of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) to student achievement
Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Mathematics; Standards--Common Core State Standards
Author(s): Houang, Richard; Schmidt, William
Organization(s): Michigan State University
Publication: Educational Researcher
Published on: 1/1/2012
  • A very high degree of similarity exists between the CCSSM and the standards of the highest achieving nations on the 1995 Third International Mathematics and Science Study.
  • A wide variation in the proximity of state standards to th...

Balancing Career and Technical Education With Academic Coursework: The Consequences for Mathematics Achievement in High School
Purpose: To examine the relationship between CTE coursework and mathematics achievement in high school
Issue/Topic: Career/Technical Education; Curriculum--Mathematics
Author(s): Bozick, Robert; Dalton, Benjamin
Organization(s): Rand Corporation; RTI International
Publication: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Published on: 1/1/2012
  • CTE courses neither limit overall gains in mathematics learning nor the acquisition of basic and intermediate mathematics skills, a finding that should assuage the concerns of those who worry that the expansion of CTE will undermine the efforts of...

Algebra: A Challenge at the Crossroads of Policy and Practice
Purpose: 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.
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

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

  • There has been a significant increase in eighth grade Algebra I enrollment over the past two decades.  As a consequence, there have been small declines in...

Content Coverage Differences across Districts/States: A Persisting Challenge for U.S. Education Policy
Purpose: To explore the relationship between classroom mathematics content coverage and student achievement
Issue/Topic: Equity; Standards
Author(s): Cogan, Leland; Houang, Richard; McKnight, Curtis; Schmidt, William
Organization(s): Michigan State University; University of Oklahoma
Publication: American Journal of Education
Published on: 1/1/2011

Significant differences in content coverage do exist as a function of the U.S. education system, and this is related to the observed student achievement differences.

1. In the 13 districts examined, vast variation in math content existed and non...

Assessing English Language Learners' Opportunity to Learn Mathematics: Issues and Limitations
Purpose: To explore the relationship between students' ELL status and their level of opportunity to learn as a factor that may explain performance differences between ELL and non-ELL students
Issue/Topic: Bilingual/ESL
Author(s): Abedi, Jamal; Herman, Joan
Organization(s): University of California, Davis; University of California, Los Angeles
Publication: Teachers College Record
Published on: 1/1/2010
Findings/Results: 1. Opportunity to Learn (OTL) has important effects on student performance, even after controlling for students' prior ability and prior academic preparation.

2. ELL students report a lower level of OTL as compared with non-ELLs and such differenti...

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