Success after Failure: Academic Effects and Psychological Implications of Early Universal Algebra Policies

Keith E. Howard, Martin Romero, Allison Scott, Derrick Saddler


In this article, the authors use the High School Longitudinal Study 2009 (HSLS:09) national database to analyze the relationships between algebra failure, subsequent performance, motivation, and college readiness. Students who failed eighth-grade Algebra I did not differ significantly in mathematics proficiency from those who passed lower-level courses, but initially demonstrated significantly lower mathematics interest, mathematics utility, and mathematics identity. Both groups were less likely than the general population to meet college requirements in the eleventh grade, although students who passed a lower-level mathematics course fared better than those who failed Algebra I. Implications for policies addressing mathematics course enrollments are discussed.


ability grouping, educational policy, equity, longitudinal studies, mathematics education

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