Did you know that research shows that the level of academic achievement students attain by eighth grade has a significant impact on students’ college and career-readiness? This month’s research brief reviews the research on why the middle grades are such a pivotal time in students’ academic lives and explores how programs can best support middle school students to get them on the college path. Click here to read this month’s research brief to find out more.
Add one more study to the research that demonstrates how important it is for underserved students (students of color, especially) to take rigorous math courses in middle school.
A recent study from the University of Illinois examines the feedback loops between math course placement, student engagement and academic achievement, and found that these three factors reinforce each other, for good and for bad. The report’s author found that students who take more advanced math classes in middle school develop positive behaviors (e.g., increased engagement, increased student effort), while students who take lower level math classes in middle school fall farther behind in terms of achievement, engagement and effort. This appears to be especially true in high minority schools. According to the report,
…the empirical results suggest that increased access to more advanced and rigorous coursework could have a significant impact on African American math achievement directly and indirectly via improved student engagement and behavior, particularly in predominantly Black urban schools.
The message is loud and clear – getting students, especially students of color, ready for high-level math in middle school (e.g., Algebra I or Geometry in 8th grade) is critical for their future academic success.