Contact Information

Research and Evaluation
Office | 301-780-6807


Last modified: 9/21/2013 4:20:50 AM
Research and Evaluation

Examining the Predictors of Successful Completion of Algebra I Courses among Middle School Students  

 Cecily Darden Adams  and Erika D. Taylor, Ph.D.


 This study is the second of two investigations that explored early Algebra I course-taking in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).  PGCPS is uniquely situated as one of the first school districts in the country to establish a universal early Algebra policy through the Equity 2000 partnership study.  The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors associated with the successful completion of Algebra I among middle grades students in PGCPS. Using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), the evaluators examined the relationship between student and school level factors and the “successful” completion of Algebra I.

The majority of students who took Algebra I in the middle grades successfully completed the course, with 86% to 89% of the analytic sample attaining a C or better course grade and/or proficiency on the standardized assessments.  Measures of student grade level and academic performance before and during the Algebra I course were the strongest predictors of successful completion, regardless of outcome measure or cohort.  However, several other student (attendance, suspension, underrepresented minority, teacher certification) and school (grade configuration, FARMS participation, English proficiency, attendance, MSA proficiency) characteristics were predicted to affect the likelihood of successful completion of Algebra I, but they varied across outcome measure and cohort.  Many of the relationships that research suggested would significantly predict student performance were not supported in this study of PGCPS early Algebra I takers. 

Additionally, analysis of the alignment between student identification and performance measures found that between 32% and 60% of students may have been inappropriately identified by the algebra placement assessment in SY2011 and SY2012, respectively.  The majority of students potentially inappropriately identified would have been excluded from taking Algebra I early despite their demonstrated ability to complete the course successfully.  In analyses of alignment between student performance measures, most students (80% to 91%) who successfully completed Algebra I with a course grade of C or better were also proficient or above on the MSA and HSA, while the assessment proficiency rate for those students who did not receive a C or better was below the PGCPS average for most cohorts.

Express Route to:

    Did You Know?

    Participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses is on the rise; an increase of 15 percentage-points since 2009.


    More than 33,600 students, 9,000 parents, and 5,700 teachers participated in the 2017 School Climate Survey.