Can Advanced Math Course Taking Sway College Enrollment: The Case of Texas Ever-English Learners




Callahan, Rebecca
Schudde, Lauren
Pack-Cosme, Kimberly

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Advanced math course-taking during high school is a key predictor of college entrance. Previous research suggests that English learners (ELs) not only take fewer advanced math courses but also enroll in college at much lower rates than non-ELs. In the present study, we examine whether ever-EL status, i.e., ever being identified for and receiving EL services, moderates the relationship between advanced math and college enrollment. Essentially, do ever-EL students experience the same boost to college enrollment from advanced math as their peers? We employ multilevel models to analyze statewide, longitudinal administrative K–12 and higher education data to examine how ever-EL status and advanced math—and the interaction between the two factors—predict high school graduation, college application and enrollment, and level of college attended. Results show that both measures are associated with a greater likelihood of graduating from high school, applying to a four-year college, and enrolling in any college; we also found that ever-EL status moderates the relationship between advanced math and college enrollment, with important implications for students’ access to four-year colleges. Ultimately, ever-EL students experience different, and very specific, returns on advanced math relative to non-ELs.



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