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Math course sequences in grades 6–11 and math achievement in Mississippi

Region:
Southeast
Description:
The purpose of this study was to examine how students in Mississippi met their mathematics requirements and the extent to which their mathematics sequence is related to student performance and demographic characteristics such as race and ethnicity. The study used data from the Mississippi Department of Education over a six-year period, beginning in 2011/12 and ending in 2016/17. The sample includes all students enrolled in grade 11 in Mississippi public high schools during the 2016/17 school year who had scores on the ACT Mathematics in grade 11 and recorded coursework in grade 6. Sequence analysis was used to summarize and then cluster the mathematics course-taking experience, or mathematics sequence, of these students in grades 6-11. Classification and regression tree analysis facilitated the identification of associations between mathematics sequence, student demographic characteristics, and college-ready performance on the ACT Mathematics in grade 11. Results indicate that membership in a particular mathematics sequence cluster did not improve the classification accuracy of the decision tree predicting risk status over and above the use of student achievement in grade 5 and student race. That these differences have less association with college-ready performance than student grade 5 mathematics achievement suggests a need to focus on prevention efforts before grade 6. Algebra I is often viewed as the gatekeeper course, but it is also possible that mathematics preparation at the elementary level sets a student on the path to taking Algebra I earlier in their mathematics sequence. While this study did not explore the quality of mathematics curriculum and instruction at the secondary level, the results of this study underscore the importance of mathematics instruction at the elementary level.
Publication Type:
Making Connections
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
August 2019
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