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AP High School Cohorts – NSF Discovery Research

National Science FoundationThe Algebra Project has completed the planning year of its Discovery Research K-12 grant from the National Science Foundation.  The award was granted for “potentially transformative” education research, and the Algebra Project was among the 17% of proposals that were successful.    The Algebra Project will test its “cohort model” for preparing students for college mathematics who are currently performing in the lowest national quartile in mathematics.

The cohort model was developed at Lanier High School, Jackson, MS.   Beginning with those students who took Algebra I with the Algebra Project in 2002-03, the project kept together a group of students, who took math every day in long periods.  The graphs below show the results at Lanier High School, where the first cohort graduated in 2006.  The features of the model are based on work at Lanier and are the result of collaboration among teachers, students, Algebra Project members, and university mathematicians and math educators (see COHORT MODEL).


The project has established six 9th grade cohorts in four schools: Crenshaw and Franklin High Schools in Los Angeles, CA; Mansfield High in Mansfield, OH; Eldorado High in Eldorado, IL; and Ypsilanti High in Ypsilanti, MI. With this grant, the Algebra Project holds itself accountable to radically transform the lives of additional students who have so far not been reached by education reforms, and to stimulate the interest of educators across the nation in this model.

Goal for National Impact of the AP’s Cohort Model: to demonstrate how students who enter high school performing in the lowest national quartile in mathematics can accelerate their learning, pass state and national (ACT/SAT) exams, and be prepared for college mathematics.

Algebra Project Cohort Model core features:

• students take math together for four years (gr 9-12), in

• daily 90-minute periods, using

• Algebra Project instructional materials, and participate in

• locally developed & designed after-school and summer institutes for math and language arts.

Additional recommended cohort features:

• Local community groups support the intervention;

• Students receive group and/or individual psychological support from counselors;

• Students receive support for college and career choices;

• Students are introduced to the wider culture through group experiences.

Building community:

• Algebra Project networking websites in use by teachers, mathematicians and professional development specialists for information sharing, and collaborative development and dissemination of instructional materials;

• teaching community (local and national);

• cohort site network: opportunities for sites to collaborate, exchange best practices, and learn from each other.

Developing a peer culture:

• classroom experiences to develop self-efficacy as well as concern for other’s growth in the mathematics class;

• becoming Math Literacy Workers (teaching math to others) through the Young People’s Project (YPP);

• providing workshops for adults or younger students;

• math competitions.

This work is being supported by the National Science Foundation, Discovery Research K-12 award #0822175