Research Brief Outlines Findings Examining the Impact on Students Who Took Online Algebra I

Washington, D.C. – The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is releasing an easy to understand research brief describing the results of a rigorous, federally funded study of students who took an online Algebra I course. The study found that eighth-grade students who are “algebra ready” and took an online course outperformed their peers in algebra knowledge and were twice as likely to take advanced mathematics classes in high school. The study is the first of its kind to examine the impact of an online Algebra I course on student achievement.

Broadening Access to Algebra I: The Impact on Eighth Grade Students Taking an Online Course,” provides school officials and policymakers with evidence-based information to identify and decide which practices best address students’ educational needs. It is available at no cost on

The brief highlights the findings of a multi-year study, Access to Algebra I: The Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students, released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. The full study was conducted by AIR and the Education Development Center (EDC).

“The brief summarizes results which showed that under certain conditions, using an online course can be an effective way to broaden access to Algebra I and can open doors to more advanced math opportunities for students in the longer term,” said Dr. Jessica Heppen, the author of the brief.

Among the findings are:

  • For students whose schools deemed them eligible for Algebra I in eighth grade, taking the online course improved their algebra test scores by the end of eighth grade and doubled their chances of taking an advanced math course sequence in high school.
  • Taking the online course (instead of the usual eighth-grade math class) had no negative effect on students’ general math achievement.
  • Removing eligible students from the general math class to offer them the online Algebra I course had no discernible side effects on non-eligible students’ achievement or course taking outcomes.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit