Goodman, Joshua, Shaun Dougherty, Darryl Hill, Erica Litke, and Lindsay Page. "Objective Course Placement and College Readiness: Evidence from Targeted Middle School Math Acceleration." Economics of Education Review 58 (June 2017): 141-161.


Advanced math coursework can affect college and labor market outcomes, yet discretionary placement policies can lead to differential access at key points in the college preparatory pipeline. We examine a targeted approach to course assignment that uses prior test scores to identify middle school students deemed qualified for a college preparatory math sequence. Accelerated math placement of relatively low-skilled middle schoolers increases the fraction later enrolling in Precalculus by one-seventh, and by over one-third for female and non-low income students. Acceleration increases college readiness and intentions to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Course placement rules based on objective measures can identify students capable of completing rigorous coursework but whom discretionary systems might overlook.