• Using standardized tests to identify prior knowledge necessary for success in algebra: a predictive analysis

      Jensen, Jennifer J.
      This study sought to determine if there is a relationship between students’ scores on the eighth-grade Indiana State Test of Education Progress Plus (ISTEP+) exam and success on Indiana’s Algebra End-of-Course Assessment (ECA). Additionally, it sought to determine if algebra success could be significantly predicted by the achievement in one or more of the seven individual reporting sub categories on the ISTEP+ exam. The relationship between the score on the language arts portion of the test and success in algebra was also explored. Successful completion of algebra and a minimum score on the Algebra ECA is required for high school graduation in the state of Indiana. It is imperative that students master this difficult subject, and educators need to understand how to help all students achieve this goal. This quantitative study utilized regression analyses to determine if the eighth-grade ISTEP+ exam could predict a significant proportion of the variance in Algebra ECA scores. More specifically, multiple regression analysis was utilized to determine if any one of the seven reporting sub categories was a significant predictor of the variance in the algebra scores. If the specific content of one or more reporting sub categories could be linked to algebra success, educators would know where and how to focus instruction and remediation efforts. Because a review of the literature also revealed a potential link between reading and math scores, a regression analysis was conducted to determine if the eighth-grade ISTEP+ language arts score predicted a significant proportion of the variance in Algebra ECA scores. The study concluded that the language arts score was a significant predictor, although it did not explain much of the variance in Algebra ECA scores. For all three models, the scores of students from two different cohorts from the same school district were utilized in the study. The first cohort consisted of students entering ninth grade in the fall of 2010 and the second consisted of students entering ninth grade in the fall of2011. Each cohort was then divided into an advanced group consisting of students who took both the ISTEP+ and the Algebra ECA in eighth grade and an average group consisting of students who did not take the Algebra ECA until the end of ninth grade. All models in the study proved significant, although there was evidence of multicollinearity and the amount of variance predicted varied greatly.