The study, released today by the local Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands, finds that 8th graders taking a virtual algebra course performed better in algebra test and were nearly twice as likely to take exact math courses by 10th grade as students who only had access to general 8th grade math.
Researchers tracked the Math Apps and course taking trends of 1,885 students from 68 overwhelmingly rural schools in Maine and Vermont.
Each school recognized students prepared to take algebra in 8th grade during the 2008-09 school year, and then was randomly assigned to also have those students participate in a Class.com online Algebra I class or go through the normal hodgepodge of 8th grade math knowledge, a middle school course including some algebra topics, dual enrollment in a high school algebra class, or even analysis an algebra book on their own at the back of the room.
Moreover, by the end of 9th grade, researchers set up the students who had taken Algebra 2 online in 8th grade were almost twice as likely to be taking a rigorous math track, including geometry and Algebra II by 10th grade.
Students who had not had right of entry to the online course, by contrast, were more likely to be doubling up on math classes in an attempt to catch up. "We know the importance of providing Algebra I to eighth graders who are prepared to take the course," said Armando Vilaseca.