Rigorous middle-school math and better access to advanced high-school classes could help narrow the racial achievement gap in academics, say University of Illinois researchers. "Students who take more advanced math courses in middle school lengthen their lead over time, and ... advanced courses lead to even higher achievement," said Christy Lleras, an assistant professor of human and community development. She noted that the opposite also held, saying that being placed into lower-level math in middle school made for "greater achievement gaps in high school."

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