Longitudinal Investigation of the Effect of Curriculum on Algebra Learning: From the Middle Grades through High School

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

We propose to investigate how different types of middle school mathematics curricula affect the learning of high school mathematics for a large sample of students (4,500) from ten high schools in an urban school district. We will also investigate the impact of curricula on students’ algebraic thinking across their middle and high school years.


This project is conducted in ten high schools in Milwaukee Public Schools.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is longitudinal and will generate evidence that is descriptive [observational], associative/correlational [quasi-experimental], and causal [quasi-experimental]. This project collects original data using assessments of learning, observation [personal observation], and survey research [self-completion questionnaires and semi-structured or informal interviews]. The target population of interest is nearly 4,500 students from ten high schools (follow them from grades 9-12).

We will use different outcome measures for student learning of algebra, including State test, course grades, PI-constructed assessments, and enrollment in advanced mathematics courses in grades 11-12. The multiple measures of learning outcomes will afford us the means to assess a broad spectrum of thinking and reasoning skills in a compelling way, including assessing students’ conceptual understanding and problem solving, as well as assessing students’ basic skills in algebra. We will make our extensive 7-year (grades 6-12) compilation of data available for others.

The data collected for this project is hierarchical in nature in that students are nested within classes, classes are nested within teachers, and teachers are nested within schools. To answer our research questions, in addition to ANCOVA analyses, we will also use multilevel statistical models to capture student achievement changes over time and to analyze the longitudinal effects of curricular and instructional experience on students’ learning.


Findings will be posted as they become available.