In this talk, we identify California public middle schools that use a 7th grade math test score threshold to place students into 8th grade Algebra. These schools provide 439 opportunities to estimate the effects of 8th grade Algebra placement via regression discontinuity analysis. Combining the results of these analyses via metaanalysis, we find that 8th grade Algebra placement has a substantial and lasting positive effect on students’ high school math course trajectory. Our analyses return more modest estimates of the effects of 8th Algebra on student achievement. Further, our analyses indicate the effects of 8th grade algebra vary substantially across schools and placement strategies. Descriptive analyses suggest that the effects of early algebra placement are more positive in schools with larger shares of relatively high-achieving and socioeconomically advantaged students, as well as schools that set high test score thresholds.


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