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Trends in Algebra II completion and failure rates for students entering Texas public high schools

The purpose of this study was to examine Algebra II completion and failure rates in Texas for high school students in the grade 9 cohorts of 2007/08 through 2014/15. This period spans (1) the point at which Texas began implementing the 4x4 curriculum that required four courses each in English, math (including Algebra II), science, and social studies and (2) when the state moved to the new Foundation High School Program—which eliminates Algebra II as a math requirement—with the 2014/15 cohort. Using longitudinal student- and district-level administrative data from the Texas Education Agency and district-level responses to a statewide online survey administered during spring 2015, the research team examined Algebra II completion and failure rates, and determined how districts were communicating with parents about the new graduation requirements and whether they would be offering the new Algebra II replacement courses during the first year of implementation. Results indicate that approximately 37 percent of districts reported requiring students to complete Algebra II to graduate from high school. Fewer than half of districts reported that they planned to offer the alternative math courses in the first year of implementing the new graduation requirements. Overall, Algebra II completion and failure rates for the 2014/15 cohort followed the same trend as seen for the seven cohorts graduating under the previous graduation requirements. This study suggests that the third high school math course students took was not immediately influenced by the new graduation requirements. Future research could continue to track additional cohorts of students to determine if student change their course-taking in response to additional changes districts may make in implementing the new graduation requirements or if the increased flexibility in course selection is related to other student outcomes such as dropout rates.
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Publication Date:
February 2018