Effects of double-dose algebra on college persistence and degree attainment

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 6;118(27):e2019030118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2019030118.


In 2003, Chicago Public Schools introduced double-dose algebra, requiring two periods of math-one period of algebra and one of algebra support-for incoming ninth graders with eighth-grade math scores below the national median. Using a regression discontinuity design, earlier studies showed promising results from the program: For median-skill students, double-dose algebra improved algebra test scores, pass rates, high school graduation rates, and college enrollment. This study follows the same students 12 y later. Our findings show that, for median-skill students in the 2003 cohort, double-dose significantly increased semesters of college attended and college degree attainment. These results were not replicated for the 2004 cohort. Importantly, the impact of the policy on median-skill students depended largely on how classes were organized. In 2003, the impacts on college persistence and degree attainment were large in schools that strongly adhered to the cut-score-based course assignment, but without grouping median-skill students with lower-skill peers. Few schools implemented the policy in such a way in 2004.

Keywords: STEM education; double-dose algebra; inequality; multilevel analysis; regression discontinuity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Status*
  • Mathematics* / economics
  • Mathematics* / education
  • Policy
  • Schools
  • Universities* / economics