Meeting the mandate for eighth grade algebra: a support model

The eighth grade algebra mandate has school leaders seeking a practical and equitable means of ensuring success in algebra for all students. One approach is to increase instructional time by providing an additional period of algebra support to students who may be unprepared for the rigor of Algebra I. This study applied a mixed-methods design to establish whether algebra support is a feasible means of providing Algebra I to an expanded population of eighth graders. Benchmark assessment results of 107 eighth grade Algebra I students were analyzed to determine whether algebra support increased student achievement in Algebra I. Results indicated a slight positive correlation between enrollment in an algebra support course and achievement in Algebra I, but effect sizes suggested the benefit of algebra support was insignificant. A teacher survey revealed endorsement of algebra support. However, teachers felt an even better means of meeting many students' needs would be the provision of an intermediate level eighth grade pre-algebra course. KEYWORDS: algebra, algebra mandate, algebra support, eighth grade, instructional time, school leadership