Algebra II Doesn’t Always = II, reports the Washington Post. To prepare students for college and for technical careers, 20 states and the District of Columbia now require students to take advanced algebra. But the course content and standards vary significantly from school to school: One school’s Algebra II is another school’s Remedial Math.
“I want to make sure that if a student takes a course, it’s really a significant course, not a watered-down version,” said Ronald A. Peiffer, Maryland deputy state superintendent for academic policy.
Peiffer said that when the state made Algebra I a graduation requirement in the early 1990s, many schools began offering two versions, the traditional course and one some teachers called “baby algebra.” The state tried to rectify the disparity later, mandating an end-of-course graduation test for Algebra I that students are expected to pass to receive a diploma.
Ninety percent of Virginia’s Algebra II students passed the end-of-course Standards of Learning exam. Students need the course for an advanced diploma, but skip it if they’re content with a regular diploma.
Achieve worked with a group of states to design a national end-of-course Algebra II exam with both open-ended and multiple-choice questions. It was tried last year in a dozen states. “In some states, only one in five students passed,” the Post reports.