Eighth-graders get temporary relief from algebra requirement

In case you haven’t heard, a Sacramento Superior Court judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order that bars the state Board of Education from implementing the new algebra requirement for all eighth-graders until a public hearing has been held in December.

Back in July, the board — following a last-minute letter from Gov. Schwarzenegger in support of increasing standards — decided to require all eighth-graders to be tested in Algebra I, starting in three years. In essence, this would have required all eighth-graders to take algebra.

The request for a temporary restraining order was filed by the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators. Jack O’Connell, the state schools chief, supported the request.

Here’s part of O’Connell’s statement about the court’s decision, as issued in a press release:

“Algebra is a critical skill that all students must master. But, our public education system currently is not set up to provide the institutional support that schools, teachers and students will need to ensure every student succeeds in Algebra I in the eighth grade. To do so would require significant investments to our system, costing billions of dollars. For example, California would have to double the number of middle school Algebra I teachers over the next three years. Given the growing budget shortfall in our state and the troubled national economic climate, … it is unlikely that the governor would be able to find the resources necessary to successfully implement the Algebra I mandate.”

Linh Tat


  1. My daughter took Algebra 1 in the 8th grade, it is already offered and was not a big deal. So why will it cost “billions of dollars” to implement? Why do you need “special” Algebra teachers? Can’t just regular math teachers teach Algebra (after all they all HAD to take it to get into college)? Seems the teachers union is crying wolf. Look, unless we raise our education standards, and quickly, how will we compete in a world where Asian kids learn multiple languages AND math better than we do? Come on!

  2. It is my understanding (this was how it was explained by the head of the education/teaching program at CSUEB a couple years ago) that you need a different credential in order to teach single subjects in 7th and 8th grade, particularly for math and science.
    You can get a general credential that will allow you to teach K-6 or a single subject credential in math, science, etc. So when they say “double the number of Algebra I teachers” I think that’s what they mean – more single subject teachers who specialize in math.
    I took calculus in high school before I got into college and even with a teaching credential I wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching algebra.
    Maybe the trend leans more towards getting credentialed to teach K-6 rather than the older, more troublesome junior high and high schoolers…

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