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Math Pathways


Virtual Algebra Study

Welcome to the Pathways to Mathematics Web Site

In these pages you will find information about an exciting study that is taking place in Maine and Vermont beginning in the Fall of 2008.

What is the Pathways to Math Achievement project?

The goal of the Pathways to Math Achievement Project is to examine the educational progress for students who take different math courses in eighth grade. These progress outcomes include achievement at the end of eighth grade and course-taking patterns and achievement in the first two years of high school. This project will examine the impact of increasing access to Algebra I for eighth graders who are ready for the course. A total of 70 schools in Maine and Vermont are participating in the study. Each participating school will receive at no cost access to a state of the art online Algebra I course for two consecutive years. The Pathways to Math Achievement Project will be conducted during the 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011 school years. 

This is a study of the use of an online algebra course to expand access to eighth graders who are ready to take the course. The study will examine the impact of having access to Algebra I in eighth grade through an online course—in terms of mathematics achievement and later course-taking in high school. 

Why a study of online Algebra?

Student achievement in mathematics in middle and high school is a national and regional concern. To help strengthen students’ mathematics achievement, national and state-level policymakers and education advocates have advocated offering algebra to students in middle school, typically at Grade 8, throughout the United States. Algebra I is one of the best-documented “gatekeeper” courses in that it is a prerequisite for higher-level mathematics and science courses required for college. Enrollment in higher-level math and science courses is highly related to success or failure in Algebra I and hence a major determinant of future educational and employment opportunities.

Offering coursework online is a strategy schools use to expand the curricula available to their students. This is particularly important for schools that have trouble offering particular courses to students who are ready for them, as well as schools that have trouble recruiting and retaining a sufficient number of highly qualified teachers. Online courses are potentially an important solution to ensuring that students in small schools and isolated communities have access to critical courses, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

The Pathways to Math Achievement Study is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and is being conducted by the Regional Educational Lab—Northeast and Islands, a partnership of the Education Development Center (EDC) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  The Windwalker Corporation, Nimble Assessment Systems, and are collaborators on the study.

If you would like to learn more about's online Algebra I course that is being offered to schools participating in this project, please contact the research team at