Out of the equation

To conform with Common Core Standards, California has dropped eighth-grade algebra as a goal for all students. A bill sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk requires schools to teach pre-algebra to all eighth graders, regardless of ability, write Ze’ev Wurman and Bill Evers, who helped write state standards 15 years ago, in City Journal.

SB 1200 . . . would prohibit schools from offering any options in mathematics, even to high school students. The bill insists that only “one set of standards” be offered at “each grade level” across the entire K–12 span.

Since the late 1990s, California has worked hard to raise math achievement to international levels, they write.

. . . the state boasts the highest percentage of students taking algebra by eighth grade in the United States—68 percent, a fourfold increase over 15 years. Fifty-three percent of California eighth-grade algebra takers tested “proficient” or “advanced” on the California Standards Test this past academic year, up from just under 40 percent in 2002.

California changed math curriculum to introduce pre-algebra concepts as early as third grade, approved new math textbooks and trained teachers, Wurman and Evers write. If SB 1200 becomes law, that effort will be abandoned.

Algebra-ready eighth graders could take algebra under the Common Core regime, writes John Fensterwald on EdSource. There will be an accelerated path to algebra, according to Bill Honig, who chairs the state education board’s commission on implementation of Common Core. California and other states will have to design new Algebra I (or integrated math) standards based on Common Core to fit the new tests.

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