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.


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.