Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Teacher Education

Major Professor

Vena Long

Committee Members

Lynn Hodge, Gary Skolits, Carl Wagner

Abstract

According to analysis of 2003 NAEP data, the percentage of students enrolling in Algebra I prior to ninth grade continues to increase, up to 42% in 2003. This current study is designed to examine the benefits of acceleration into algebra by exploring four major questions regarding timing of algebra. The first question examines relationships between student characteristics and timing of algebra. Relationships between school characteristics and timing of algebra are examined by the second question. Questions three and four explore relationships between timing of algebra and mathematics achievement and course taking, respectively.

Information was gathered on 449 students matriculating at a small liberal arts college, located in the Midwest, during 2007-2008. Students were grouped according to the grade level at which they completed Algebra I. Eighty-two students completed Algebra I prior to ninth grade, 288 during ninth grade, and 79 after ninth grade. Statistical tests utilized to analyze the data include the chi square test of independence, one way between group analysis of variance, and multinomial logistic regression.

A significant positive relationship between SES and enrollment in Algebra I prior to ninth grade and a significant negative relationship between SES and enrollment in Algebra I after ninth grade was found. No significant relationship was found between gender or race-ethnicity and timing of algebra.

Relationships between school type (home, private, public) and timing of algebra were significant. Home educated students were less likely than other students to complete Algebra I prior to ninth grade. Both home and private school students completed Algebra I after ninth grade more often than students from public schools. No significant difference in timing of algebra was found with regard to school size or school locale (rural/non-rural).

While early entrants into algebra did not complete more mathematics classes, they did complete more advanced mathematic classes and were more likely to study calculus. However, early entrants into algebra were more likely to drop out of the mathematics pipeline after tenth grade than other students. Early entrants into algebra had higher mathematics achievement as measured by Algebra II grades, mathematics grade point averages, and ACT Mathematics scores.

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