Two paths to algebra in California

California will not block eighth-graders from taking algebra if the governor signs SB 1200, writes Deputy Superintendent Lupita Cortez Alcalá in a letter to Bill Lucia of EdVoice. School districts will not be forced “into a misguided one-size-fits-all approach to math education,” she writes.

What it does do is provide for clear and viable pathways: one for students who are ready for higher mathematics (algebra 1 in a traditional sequence and course 1 in an integrated sequence) and another for students who would progress through the grade level standards as called for in the Common Core standards.

Placement of students in mathematics courses, based on their readiness, remains a local decision – as it should be.

. . . adoption of the Common Core State Standards with California’s additions presented some unique challenges. California adopted two sets of eighth grade mathematics standards: the Common Core set and a set that combined elements of the Common Core eighth-grade and high school mathematics standards with California’s own algebra standards. Unfortunately, the “Algebra 1 at Grade 8” standards have created confusion in our school districts as it is a unique amalgamation, different from Algebra I, and not supported by instructional materials or curricula.

In focus groups, teachers and curriculum said “they want high expectations and high standards for their students – but also flexibility to decide when a student is ready for higher mathematics, based upon each student’s classroom performance – not impersonal directives from the Capitol,” concludes Alcalá.

I think this means algebra-ready students will take Algebra I without any Common Core additions. I think . . . (A reform of years gone by, integrated math teaches bits of algebra, geometry, trig and stats each year till students have mastered the concepts. It’s lost popularity.)

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