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Problem Solved? 8th Grade Math Curriculum May Change in Pacifica

The State Board of Education cut Algebra I standards from the state’s eighth grade math requirements.

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.

"I am extremely excited about the change regarding algebra in the 8th grade," said Pacifica School District superintendent Wendy Tukloff. "This change will allow teachers and students the time needed to solidify concepts and strengthen higher order thinking skills."

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 80 percent of eighth graders in the Pacifica School District took Algebra I during the 2011-12 school year. Of those 295 eighth graders, 19 percent rated "advanced" in STAR test results and 26 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.

"As a member of the North County Collaborative, Mathematics (Jefferson Elementary, Brisbane, Bayshore, and Jefferson Union High School), we have been in reviewing the requirements and are in the process of evaluating how this change will impact our current practice," said Tukloff. "Pacifica School District will be discussing this change with the Board of Trustees, teachers and families to develop an approach that will meet the needs of our students. One question that we focus on is that of acceleration."

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Deborah February 06, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Math is the purest kind of logical thought there is. Whether or not a student pursues mathematics as part a career (and many careers include algebraic thinking), logical thinking crosses all disciplines. Many colleges expect students to have completed calculus by high school, which becomes increasingly unlikely if students have not completed algebra by the 8th grade. Rather than bringing everyone up to world standards, we as a state have decided to go in the opposite direction. I urge the district not to follow the state down the wrong path.
Karen February 08, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I agree with Deborah. I think PSD students will be better served with tiered math classes in middle-school to allow those students who are ready to move into algebra to do so and provide necessary support to those students who aren't. With the effort that PSD has put into being thought leaders in STEM, it is disappointing to learn that PSD is considering an "only" core standard approach.
Jo Tog February 08, 2013 at 06:39 PM
I was visiting a friend in their workplace last week. On the white board basic algebra was beng used. Not one person sitting in that office was able to understand the math. Algebra should remain mandatory to graduate from 8th grade. A young adult I know of was recruited right out of high school by a big company because of their math skills and completeting calculus in their senior year. This young person is still employed and by this company and lives independently from their parents since the age of 19 yrs. Please listen to Dr. Benjamin Soloman Carson who gave a speech at President Obama's National Prayer Breakfast. Please listen to the end. He speaks about how important it is for our children to understand Math. President Obama has great respect for this man. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4353213

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