Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

June 2016


Within discussions of K-12 math, the middle grades are framed as a critical period of transition between the foundational concepts presented in elementary math classes and the more abstract upper-level math classes that are traditionally associated with the high school level (i.e. Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus). Over the past two decades important debates have occurred among educational researchers, math educators, and education policy makers as to the proper approach to middle grades math policy. At the center of this debate is the question of how and when to integrate algebra into the math course sequence. This focus on algebra has to do with its position as the first of the higher-level math classes, leading many to frame it as a “gatekeeper” course to future academic progress and opportunity (Adelman, 1999; Horn & Nunez, 2000; National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008; Spielhagen, 2011).

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