Cover: Understanding the Effects of Middle School Algebra

Understanding the Effects of Middle School Algebra

A Regression Discontinuity Approach

Published Oct 20, 2017

by Andrew McEachin, Thurston Domina, Andrew M. Penner

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

We identify California public middle schools that use a 7th grade achievement threshold to place students into 8th grade Algebra. These schools provide 439 opportunities to estimate regression discontinuity effects of 8th grade Algebra placement. We meta-analyze these effects and find small positive effects on students' high school math and English achievement, and substantial positive effects on high school math course-taking. Further, our analyses indicate substantial treatment effect heterogeneity across schools. Descriptive analyses suggest a positive relationship between treatment effects and average school student achievement and the location of the placement threshold, and a negative relationship with student poverty.

This research was conducted by RAND Labor and Population.

This report is part of the RAND working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.