An Analysis of Acceleration and Advancement Criteria in Middle School Mathematics
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AbstractThis research explores the criteria associated with various accelerated middle school mathematics programs currently employed by New York, North Carolina and other states across the United States. In addition, a longitudinal study of a single accelerated cohort of 25, 2016 graduates was investigated, so as to discern possible gaps in their original accelerated design. It was hypothesized that school districts make use of limited mathematics acceleration criteria, often focusing solely on either teacher recommendations or standardized assessments. Also, it was expected that the majority of district policies did not offer/include provisions for students to easily transfer into the accelerated mathematics program if students exhibit qualifying mathematical talent later in their secondary school career. First and foremost the survey research showed that teacher recommendation was used by 68.75% of schools, testing was addressed in 90.63% of schools and grades were a factor for 75%, making up the primary criteria for advancing students. Other data collected revealed that only about 60% of schools give the option to join the program at a later date, approximately 40% gave parents the right to override the school's placement decision, and roughly 20% of all schools surveyed had a set number or percent of students allowed into the program each year. When examining the longitudinal study, the 12 ‘additional’ students faired almost identically to the 13 ‘primarily placed’ students, each had approximately 33% of their group drop out of advanced placement and both groups had 6 students successfully complete Calculus I or higher. Half of the students in the additional group took Calculus or more advanced courses their senior year of high school. Based on the original criteria, none of these students would have had access to the advanced/college level mathematics coursework. In a class of only 60 students to miss 6 students is to miss 10% of the class. Implications from this study were that all policies should have opt-in or opt-out options for students, a scoring rubric, parental override procedure, a balance between and use of multiple criteria, no population limit or percentile cut-off and schools should compact classes, meaning combining 6th and 7th grade mathematics, not just skip grades.
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