Students successfully complete Algebra I or an equivalent course before or during grade 9.
Percentage of first-time grade 9 students who complete Algebra I or an equivalent course by the end of their 9th-grade year
Data Source(s)Student transcripts
Why it matters
Completion of Algebra I by grade 9 is highly predictive of later outcomes, including high school graduation and success in college, and proficiency in algebra is linked to job readiness and higher earnings once students enter the workforce. In addition, Algebra I can act as a “gatekeeper” for access to upper-level math courses that are drivers of college readiness and college completion. White students are more likely than Black and Latino students to take Algebra I earlier and pass the course. Of students who took Algebra I in grade 8, for example, 64 percent of Black students and 72 percent of Latino students received a passing grade, compared to 85 percent of White students. Preparing students for rigorous math coursework in middle school and early high school has been shown to help close racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic achievement gaps.
What to know about measurement
Schools record student grade data as part of their regular operations, making this indicator feasible to measure. Calculating this rate would require data from both middle school and high school transcripts, as almost a quarter of students take Algebra I in 7th or 8th grade.171 We recommend measuring this indicator among first-time 9th-grade students (and not students who repeat 9th grade) to capture whether students are completing Algebra I on time.
This indicator appeared in five source frameworks reviewed for this report. For example, Algebra I completion by grade 9 appears in the Council of the Great City Schools’ Academic Key Performance Indicators.
The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.