By Doug McRae
At its meeting next week, the California State Board of Education will consider eliminating the incentive for schools to offer a full Algebra 1 course to students ready to take Algebra by 8th grade. But removing this incentive would result in a de facto lowering of expectations for mathematics programs in middle schools, and lead to a significant reduction in the number of middle school students becoming proficient in Algebra. Do we really want to do this?
Perhaps it is best to view this issue from the perspective of a middle school mom who asked in an email several weeks ago: “With state board action adopting Common Core grade 8 math standards in January, will middle schools be able to offer Algebra?” She continued, “My son’s school will be offering the new 8th grade Common Core class next year but not Algebra. I’d like my son (who is a high performing math student) to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade. The middle school principal, high school principal, and high school math teacher have all said this is a better pathway for college prep.”