An ambitious effort to better prepare students for college is now just a footnote in history books after the State Board of Education eliminated Algebra I standards for eighth graders last month.
The controversial plan required school districts to teach Algebra I in middle school, a mathematics course that most other states offer to high schoolers, according to NBC 4 News.
But the State Board of Education dumped the Algebra 1 requirement last month, favoring standards that will mirror the national Common Core standards, EdSource reported. That means no more Algebra I for eighth graders, though there are plans to develop accelerated courses of study for students who have the skills to comprehend the Algebra I curriculum.
"This change will provide us with greater flexibility at the middle school to create classes that focus on taking students where they are and accelerating their development of skills and understanding of concepts," said Tony Roehrick, Cabrillo Unified School District superintendent. "Basically, removing the constraints of a one-size-fits-all mentality is good for kids."
The state launched Algebra I for middle school sutdents 15 years ago to put students on a path to take Calculus as high school seniors, according to this Mercury News report. The advanced math study is encouraged for college-bound students and expected by high-level universities.
Nearly 34 percent of eighth graders at Cunha Intermediate School took Algebra I during the 2011-12 school year. Of those 89 eighth graders, 24 percent rated "advanced" in STAR test results and 54 percent were "proficient."
While more students enrolled in Algebra I as eighth graders, there have been concerns about students struggling with the curriculum. The standards require students to keep retaking the course until they pass.
Complicating the matter was a move by the state two years ago that created two sets of middle school math standards. Federal No Child Left Behind statues don't allow for dueling curriculum.
The new eighth grade math course will be more rigorous than a general pre-algebra class but not as complex as Algebra I, Tom Adams, head of California's curriculum framework and instructional resources, told NBC 4 News. It will be rolled out for the 2014-15 school year.
"The taking of algebra at 8th grade for all students did not make a lot of sense," said Roehrick. "While the majority of students possess the requisite skills to master algebra at that age, many do not."
Do you think cutting Alegbra I is a good thing for all 8th grade students? Tell us your opinion in the comments.
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