Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education


Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Hampton, Frederick

Subject Headings

Education, Education Policy, Mathematics Education, Middle School Education, Secondary Education


The purpose of this study was to explore whether and how tracking structures in mathematics courses at the middle school level relate to differences in achievement between white and black students. This study used propensity score matching to compare the achievement outcomes of students enrolled in advanced mathematics classes, with students of comparable ability and background enrolled in grade-level math classes. The study sample was comprised of 1,510 students. Results from the study show that enrollment in an advanced-math course was associated with statistically significant improvement in math achievement for average-ability students. In addition, study results show that increases in student achievement associated with average-ability black student enrollment in advanced-level math courses surpass the increases in math achievement outcomes associated with average-ability white student enrollment in advanced-level math courses. These findings have important equity implications because average-ability black students opt to enroll, or are disproportionately placed, in grade-level math as compared to average-ability white students. The findings suggest that increased enrollment of average-ability black and white students in advanced-level math would lead to a reduction in the racial math achievement gap and to improved math achievement outcomes for both black and white students.