and the goal of Algebra for all in 8th grade, but over the years we

have learned and experienced the shortcomings of our state standards

especially in mathematics - too many standards, lack of focus and

coherence, and the lack of 8th grade standards. The common core

standards improves the CA standards by addressing all of these issues,

particularly the lack of 8th grade standards.

From my experience as a middle school math teacher and a project

coordinator working with several districts on curriculum and

instruction issues, the lack of 8th grade standards other than Algebra

has had negative consequences for both districts and students.

Districts that test students in a course such as a two year algebra

course or algebra readiness, considered below grade level by the

federal government are penalized on their API score. Many districts,

to avoid this penalty, place all 8th grade students in Algebra whether

they are ready or not. The students who are not ready are being set up

for failure by the people who are trying to ensure their success. I

have looked in the eyes of these students and feel helpless that I

can't put them in an appropriate course. We cannot in good conscious

continue this practice. We need to be able to offer choices so that we

can place students in the best possible position for success.

Everyone agrees that successful completion of Algebra1 and Algebra 2

are important, but everyone learns at different rates. Math is the

only subject that has a sequential layering of topics. There are

learning progressions. If along the way a student starts to become

lost or to develop gaps in their understanding, it becomes very

difficult to correct misunderstandings and fill the gaps if we are in

a hurry to have all students ready for Algebra in 8th grade. Wouldn't

it be much better to allow these students the time to learn the

mathematics and enjoy mathematics rather than pushing them through a

system that doesn't care about their learning and success. Students

who are successful in learning the K-7 mathematics CCSS standards can

still take Algebra in 8th grade. Even Achieve in a document on their

website states: "While the CCSS were not specifically develop with the

goal of preparing students for Algebra 1 in grade 8, students wh are

successful in achieving the expectations set in these standards for

grades K-7 should have the content knowledge to be well prepared for

Algebra 1, or its equivalent, in grade 8", but by having a set of 8th

grade standards where those students who need more time to learn the

foundational skills for succes in Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 and other

higher levels of mathematics we can meet the needs of all of our

students. Isn't that after all the goal? Success for all.

I strongly agree with this statement.

ReplyDeleteI think the following quote concerning placing all 8th grade students in Algebra 1 is especially Important, "The students who are not ready are being set up for failure by the people who are trying to ensure their success. I have looked in the eyes of these students and feel helpless that I can't put them in an appropriate course. We cannot in good conscious continue this practice. We need to be able to offer choices so that we can place students in the best possible position for success."