“Algebra-for-All” Strategy, Good or Bad? Get the News

Over the past 10 -15 years, many states have mandated tough new requirements that ALL students (special education students as well as mainstreamed students) take and pass Algebra 1 (sometimes higher math courses, too) in order to graduate from high school.

While that may not sound very challenging for students who do well in math, these mandates have placed major hurdles before students who struggle with math in general — and algebra in particular.

New studies have been coming out on the impact of this so-called “Algebra-for-All” teaching push. I just found an interesting article on this topic at this site.

I’m now including a general link to this math news portal — in my blogroll — as it contains a wide range of articles for math educators. Its name on the blogroll is Math Education News. Feel free to check it out any time you drop by the blog — or any time at all.

And do feel free to share your comments on the current “Algebra-for-All” push. Do you find that it is working where you live and work? Or not working? Any suggestions on how to tinker with mandates to make them work? This is an important topic since algebra is the critical “gatekeeper” course to all higher math. And what’s more, major studies have found that success in algebra is one of the key predictors of matriculation into college.

So a lot is at stake when it comes to algebra. And a lot rides on how well we as a nation help children succeed in this course.

Share your thoughts; we’re all curious to hear what you think.

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2 Responses to ““Algebra-for-All” Strategy, Good or Bad? Get the News”

  1. ZeroSum Ruler says:

    Not only is there a push for all older students to take Algebra, Algebraic ideas are introduced to students starting in early elementary school. Kids are learning the beginnings of equation solving before, and often in lieu of, learning their times tables.

    It’s all fun and good to teach kids new things and expand their learning early, but try teaching an eleventh grader who never had to memorize multiplication tables how to factor. How important is teaching rudimentary algebra concepts early if the basics are never mastered?

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    • Josh Rappaport says:

      Hi ZeroSum,

      I partially agree and partially disagree, I suppose. On the one hand, I do think it’s great to introduce younger children to algebraic thinking. As a tutor who has tutored a lot of algebra, I do believe that algebraic ideas do need to be taught in the earlier years so that they don’t come down on 8th graders like a barrage of new and very challenging ideas. So in any case, I do support the new trend of algebraic curriculum in the younger grades. On the other hand I do very much agree that the basics do often get shortchanged in the curriculum. I am working with a lot of secondary students now who don’t know their times tables, who have forgotten how to do fraction operations (if they ever did learn in the first place), and so on. I do agree that we need to do a better job teaching (and re-teaching) the basics. I also believe that we need to do a better job of teaching “new basics” each year. For example, in Algebra 1, it would help students greatly if they were required to learn all of the perfect squares from 1 squared = 1 to 20 squared = 400. I’ve never understood why teachers don’t mandate that students memorize these facts. Think about how much more easily they could reduce radicals if they had those facts down. So yes, we have a lot of work to do … in many areas. That is for sure. In any case, I appreciate your comment!

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