‘Algebra-for-All’ Push Found to Yield Poor Results

By Debra Viadero

Spurred by a succession of reports pointing to the importance of algebra as a gateway to college, educators and policymakers embraced “algebra for all” policies in the 1990s and began working to ensure that students take the subject by 9th grade or earlier.

A trickle of studies suggests that in practice, though, getting all students past the algebra hump has proved difficult and has failed, some of the time, to yield the kinds of payoffs educators seek.

Among the newer findings:

• An analysis using longitudinal statewide data on students in Arkansas and Texas found that, for the lowest-scoring 8th graders, even making it one course past Algebra 2 might not be enough to help them become “college and career ready” by the end of high school.

• An evaluation of the Chicago public schools’ efforts to boost algebra coursetaking found that, although more students completed the course by 9th grade as a result of the policy, failure rates increased, grades dropped slightly, test scores did not improve, and students were no more likely to attend college when they left the system.

• A 2008 paper by the Brookings Institution suggested that as many as 120,000 students nationwide were “misplaced” in algebra programs, meaning they had test scores on national exams that put them about seven grades below their peers in algebra classes. Further, it said, states with a high proportion of students taking algebra in 8th grade didn’t necessarily outperform other states on national math assessments.

]]>“The Chicago school district was at the forefront of that movement in 1997 when it instituted a mandate for 9th grade algebra as part of an overall effort to ensure that its high school students would be “college ready” upon graduation.

The policy change may have yielded unintended effects, according to researchers from the Consortium on Chicago School Research, based at the University of Chicago. While algebra enrollment increased across the district, the percentages of students failing math in 9th grade also rose after the new policy took effect.

By the same token, the researchers say, the change did not seem to lead to any significant test-score gains for students in math or in sizeable increases in the percentages of students who went on to take higher-level math courses later on in high school.”

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/03/11/24algebra.h28.html?tmp=181523979

duh.

]]>As a side note, we should all try to recall and explain the quadratic formula and its genesis and uses while we weigh in on this debate… we ask a lot of the kids! ]]>

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203092429.htm ]]>

This is a way for minority children to get kept in their lower standards “place” by the soft racist approachers, cause I guarantee you, that blacks and latinos will far more outnumber the whites and Asians in the lower math classes.

Another liberal rule that will contiune he drudgery of minority students in California.

]]>It seems the judge’s ruling in this case favors the better outcome.

In rectifying the salutatory ‘violation’ of not allowing the state superintendent of instruction, Jack O’Connel, his authoritative role in establishing a NCLB compatible Algebra assessment tool, perhaps his “original plan” (as Mary observes) to “test students on SOME algebra standards and not all,” will have more clout?

As argued by the plaintiffs and endorsed by the judge, establishing an Algebra test that shorts a full understanding of Algebra 1 content for eighth graders is not necessarily a violation of NCLB.

The determination of sound educational policy requires determinative input from actual teachers like Mary, not “action heroes” like The Terminator.

]]>I really don’t understand the hurry to move kids through math courses. It seems that most universities prefer that students take THEIR calculus series, even if a student took calculus in high school. Since Algebra 2 is where most kids “hit the wall” in their math education, a solid foundation in Algebra 1 is critical. I would like to see it evolve into a two-year course, offered in eight AND ninth grades. ]]>