|About the Book|
Algebra has been considered a gateway course for college preparation, with students who take algebra at eighth grade considered likely to succeed in high school and go to college. However, among the 50% of California eighth-grade students who took algebra in 2007, only 38% scored proficient or above on the California Standards Test (CST). This study investigates the link between students prior knowledge and eighth- and ninth-grade algebra success. The data were over 600,000 seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade students test results on the CSTs administered in 2006 and 2007. Two cohorts were investigated: cohort 1 (grades 8-9) and cohort 2 (grades 7-8). If learning success is defined by scoring proficient or above on CSTs, test results from cohort 1 reveal that ninth-grade students have 22% more chance of succeeding in algebra if they passed the CST for General Mathematics in eighth grade compared to those who failed the CST for Algebra I. Further, to predict eighth-grade CST for Algebra I scores, three regression models were studied for cohort 2. Model 1 specifies a predictor variable of the CST for Grade Seven Mathematics score- model 2 specifies predictor variables of the CST for Grade Seven Mathematics six reporting cluster sub-scores- and model 3 specifies predictor variables of the CST for Grade Seven English-Language Arts score, the CST for Grade Seven Mathematics reporting cluster sub-scores, and student demography. These predictor variables contributed respectively 61%, 62%, and 64% of the variance of the CST for Algebra I scores. Also, the model 2 multiple regression analysis indicates that among the six reporting clusters of content knowledge and skills, rational numbers is a strong predictor, contributing 48% of the variance to the CST for Algebra I scores. A validation on model 3 shows 96% of the prediction at the same or within one performance level difference (+/-) compared to the observed performance levels. A principal factor analysis (PFA) indicates that one factor underlies the six reporting clusters of the CST for Grade Seven Mathematics, suggesting that there is not enough empirical evidence to identify specific subsets of content knowledge and skills as algebra readiness.