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IES Grant

Title: Curricular Reform and Classroom Peer Ability: School-Specific and Citywide Effects
Center: NCER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Nomi, Takako Awardee: Saint Louis University
Program: Improving Education Systems: Policies, Finance, Organization, Management, and Leadership      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/12 – 6/30/14) Award Amount: $490,831
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A130703

Previous Award Number: R305A120640
Previous Awardee: University of Chicago

Co-Principal Investigator: Steve Raudenbush

Purpose: Focusing on mathematics education reform initiatives in Chicago Public Schools (Algebra for All starting in 1997 and Double-Dose Algebra starting in 2003), the researchers seek to gauge and start to account for the variability in the effects of the reform across different schools. Specifically, the research team seeks to gauge the effects of course taking, classroom peer composition, and their interaction on student mathematics performance, and to investigate the extent to which prior student ability influences these effects.

Project Activities: The research team has over two decades of administrative, demographic, and test data for all students who have been in the Chicago Public School System during that span of time. A subset of these data will be analyzed with a battery of statistical models that will yield estimates of the effects of the reforms and the differences in those effects.

Products: Products from this study include evidence on the effects of Algebra for All and Double-Dose Algebra, along with variables that influence those effects. Peer-reviewed journal articles and policy briefs informed by the results of the study will also be produced.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The data come from students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools since 1991, the schools they attended, and the teachers they had for mathematics instruction.

Sample: The sample consists of first-time ninth-grade students in Chicago Public Schools, a school system that is approximately 50 percent African-American, 38 percent Latino, and 9 percent white. The portion of the study on Algebra for All includes six cohorts, starting with students who began ninth grade in the 1994–1995 school year and continuing through students who began ninth grade in the 1999–2000 school year, for a total of 97,223 students across 61 schools. For Double-Dose Algebra, four cohorts are used, the two prior to the implementation (i.e., the first-time ninth-graders in 2001 and 2002) and the first two that came in under Double-Dose Algebra, (i.e., the first-time ninth-graders in 2003 and 2004). The total for this portion of the study is 61,151 students across 62 schools.

Intervention: The interventions under investigation are Algebra for All and Double-Dose Algebra. Algebra for All, implemented in 1997, required that all students have an algebra course in high school if they were not yet beyond algebra in their math studies. Double-Dose Algebra was implemented in 2003 to give struggling algebra students additional classroom time for remediation in the mathematical skills fundamental to learning algebra.

Research Design and Methods: Using secondary data from Chicago Public Schools, the researchers will analyze the data with various statistical models to test the effects on math achievement of the two math initiatives. The team will also test potential differences in those effects as a function of school and student characteristics.

Comparison Condition: The analyses for both initiatives include comparisons to students from school years immediately prior to implementation of the initiatives.

Key Measures: Demographics, school characteristics, and classroom characteristics will be used in the models. The primary measures of mathematics achievement are the Iowa Test of Basic Skills math scores, ninth-grade math Tests of Achievement and Proficiency scores (for the Algebra for All analyses), and scores on the algebra portion of the PLAN (preliminary ACT) exams (for the Double-Dose Algebra analyses).

Data Analytic Strategy: The results pertinent to Algebra for All will come from multilevel models incorporating instrument variables in an interrupted time series framework. The results for Double-Dose Algebra will come from models based on a sharp regression discontinuity design.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Nomi, T., and Raudenbush, S.W. (2016). Making a Success of "Algebra for All": The Impact of Extended Instructional Time and Classroom Peer Skill in Chicago. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38 (2): 431–451.