Of the high-school graduates leaving Maryland's Montgomery County schools, 47% receive a bachelor's degree within six years of leaving high school, according to data on students who graduated from 2001 to 2004. The district is one of the few that track students' progress after high school. The likelihood of receiving a bachelor's degree was 75% among students who pass algebra I in eighth grade, while it was just 34% for those not enrolled in the course. "If you have students who are taking algebra in the eighth grade, they're getting college degrees," a district spokesman said.

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