The Effects of the Elevate Math Summer Program on Math Achievement and Algebra Readiness


July 2015

Middle school is a critical time for students to develop math literacy and foundations in algebraic thinking. Success in middle school courses is critical as they lead to a succession of more advanced courses that put them on the path to college and career readiness. To raise math success rates in middle school, many schools and districts have implemented summer math programs designed to improve student preparation for algebra content in eighth grade. But do these interventions help?

To answer this question, REL West collaborated with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and some Silicon Valley School Districts to conduct a randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of the Elevate Math summer program on math achievement and algebra readiness. The study also examined math interest and math self-efficacy among rising grade 8 students. The program targeted students who had demonstrated throughout middle school a need for additional math support. Elevate Math provided the students with four hours of standards-based math instruction a day for 19 days in the summer of 2014 as well as field trips, a college night, and other events that reinforce college-going aspirations.

The study found that students who had access to the Elevate Math summer program significantly outperformed their control group counterparts in math achievement and algebra readiness. At the end of the intevention, math achievement scores of the treatment group exceeded those of the control group by 0.7 standard deviations. In addition, 29 percent of the treatment group reached a level of math achievement that indicated algebra readiness, compared with 12 percent of the control gorup. The study found no significant effects on math interest or math self-efficacy. 

The findings suggest that summer math programs may be important tools for improving math achievement among rising grade 8 students. They also suggest that additional support, above and beyond summer interventions, is likely to be needed to ensure students continue to make progress in middle school and high school math courses.

 Read an accompanying research brief on our Research & Tools page.