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State supe unveils algebra plan

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell unveiled his “Algebra I Success Initiative” today in response to the state Board of Education’s recent decision to require all eighth-graders to take Algebra I starting in three years.

O’Connell opposed the decision but said in a statement that “given the State Board’s decision, I believe it is imperative we focus on ensuring our students are now given the resources they need to successfully reach this mandate.”

His plan calls for $3.1 billion in state funding to lower seventh- and eighth-grade math class sizes, increase instructional time, expand afterschool and weekend tutorial programs, provide professional development and instructional materials to teachers, and recruit and retain quality instructors, among other things.

Fremont math teacher Edie Birbeck has taught for 20 years and says she’s opposed to forcing algebra down the throats of students who aren’t developmentally ready to master the concepts. She’s also skeptical about pouring more money into professional development. As she sees it, teachers already are trained, but if a) class sizes are too large and b) students just aren’t ready for algebra, the latest state mandate is doomed for failure.

You can read more comments from local educators in tomorrow’s Argus. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts about the eighth-grade Algebra I mandate.

image from Bubblesthepiggy’s site at flickr.com.

Linh Tat