*Names in bold indicate Presenter
WCPSS contracted SAS to construct a prediction model that capitalizes on extant student test scores from previous grades to predict each student’s probability of obtaining a passing score on the NC Algebra I End-of-Course exam. These predicted EVAAS probabilities determine recommended course placement in grades 6 through 8. For example, 8th grade students with a 0.70 or higher probability are recommended for Algebra I. Those students who are not recommended for advanced mathematics or Algebra I are recommended for typical grade-level mathematics courses.
Using student-level administrative data from WCPSS, we utilize a regression-discontinuity (RD) design to investigate how exposure to advanced mathematics and early algebra course-taking impact students’ performance on the state-mandated end-of-grade mathematics examinations as well. Our analyses yield evidence of a significant, negative impact of assignment to advanced mathematics on student end-of-grade mathematics scores in the first two years of implementation. In particular, students of color and 6th graders seem to bear the majority of the adverse impact. Though the sign and magnitude of the effects are relatively stable, the statistical significance differs somewhat by choice of bandwidth. Results from our first-stage analysis indicate strong adherence to the policy’s rule for assigning students to these advanced courses, and we find no evidence that the effects are heterogeneous by gender or race. These findings are consistent with earlier work from Clotfelter, Ladd, and Vigdor (2011) and Nomi (2012) who also find a negative impact of similar policies. Further analyses will investigate additional outcomes, and investigate potential mechanisms for the negative impact of the policy, such as teacher quality and classroom peer effects, at the margin of assignment.