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Esther D Leonelli

Posts: 18
Registered: 12/6/04
Response [Re:
Posted: Mar 19, 2009 8:11 AM
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 14 Mar 2009 21:21:21 -0500
From: Andy Albee <>
Subject: Re:

Even without fully reading the study, I still believe in this result. Minnesota is following this, in my humble opinion, stupid policy. The idea that we can blindly shove students into a mathematics course and expect them all to succeed is ludicris. The state is moving to a policy of all 8th graders taking Algebra and having MCA-II (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment 2) tests being given in 11th grade as a high stakes test. Not all students will succeed at Algebra in 8th grade and of those that do succeed, not all will continue with three more years of math to keep continuity.

In Idaho, where I grew up, they would not allow me to take Algebra in 8th grade. Now they have changed as well. I think that it should be available, but not required at that level. I would have succeeded, but I know others who would not.

And lastly, I totally agree with the last statement in the passage. I am introducing my children to Algebra and more in very early elementary school. The concept of number sense and Algebraic rules rather than rote memorization of Arithmetic algorithms is totally within child conceptual abilities. They should be being introduced to these ideas the same way that we introduce them to language. The main problem that I have seen in my work is lack of understanding of the concepts and acceptance of inability by parents and elementary school teachers. The better we can train and help them, the better our children will be in mathematics. "I've never been good in math" or "I can't do math" is banned in my classroom.

>>> <> 03/13/09 9:45 PM >>>
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2009 11:08:05 -0400
From: Esther D Leonelli <>
To: ANN Numeracy List <>
Subject: [EdWeek] Algebra-for-All Policy Found to Raise Rates Of Failure in
Chicago (fwd)
Precedence: list
Reply-To: numeracy

Comments on this article?

Esther D. Leonelli <>

Moderator, Numeracy List <>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 18:18:56 -0400
From: Andrew Chen <>
Subject: [EdWeek] Algebra-for-All Policy Found to Raise Rates Of Failure in

Hi there,




Education Week
Published Online: March 6, 2009
Published in Print: March 11, 2009

Algebra-for-All Policy Found to Raise Rates Of Failure in Chicago
By Debra Viadero

Arlington, Va.

Findings from a study involving 160,000 Chicago high school students offer a
cautionary tale of what can happen, in practice, when school systems require
students to take algebra at a particular grade level.

Buoyed by recommendations from national mathematics experts, growing numbers
of districts and states, such as New York and Texas, have begun requiring
students to study algebra in 9th grade. Notably, California recently moved
to require the subject even earlier, in 8th grade, although the policy faces
legal roadblocks.

The Chicago school district was at the forefront of that movement in 1997
when it instituted a mandate for 9th grade algebra as part of an overall
effort to ensure that its high school students would be "college ready" upon

The policy change may have yielded unintended effects, according to
researchers from the Consortium on Chicago School Research, based at the
University of Chicago. While algebra enrollment increased across the
district, the percentages of students failing math in 9th grade also rose
after the new policy took effect.

By the same token, the researchers say, the change did not seem to lead to
any significant test-score gains for students in math or in sizeable
increases in the percentages of students who went on to take higher-level
math courses later on in high school.

"This policy that Chicago tried in 1997 seems to be sweeping the country now
and not a lot of thought is being given to how it really affects schools,"
Elaine M. Allensworth, the lead researcher on the study, said in an
District Responds

Her co-author, Takako Nomi, presented the findings here in Virginia on March
3 at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational
Effectiveness, a group based in Evanston, Ill., that promotes
cause-and-effect studies.

"It's not surprising that you're going to see an increase in [failure] rates
if you raise the instructional requirements and you don't raise the
supports," said Michael Lach, the director of the school system's office of
high school teaching.

Over the past seven or eight years, he said, the district has tried to boost
student-success rates under the policy, which remains in place. Steps
include developing curricular materials introducing students to algebra
concepts in grades K-8, requiring struggling 9th graders to take double
periods of algebra, and providing more professional development in math to
middle and high school teachers, Mr. Lach said.

The consortium researchers said their findings grow out of an ongoing study
of the district's across-the-board efforts to upgrade academic requirements
for all students. They plan to publish a report on the effects of the double
algebra periods in April.

The scholars based their findings on data gathered on 11 waves of students
entering 9th grade from 1994 to 2005.

They compared changes within schools from cohort to cohort during a period
before the policy took effect with a period several years afterward. They
also compared schools that underwent the changes with those that already had
an "algebra for all" policy in place.
Effects Varied by Ability

The researchers calculate that, for a school that saw an increase of 20
percentage points in algebra enrollment due to the requirement, for example,
the percentage of 9th graders failing math would increase by 3 percentage
points for students in the lowest-ability quartile, 3.5 percentage points
for students in the next quartile, and 8.9 percent for students in the
quartile of students who were labeled to be of "average" ability.

The failure rate was not appreciably higher, though, among the
highest-ability students, most of whom would presumably have taken algebra

"We thought the average-ability kids would be better able to handle algebra
than the lowest-ability kids," said Ms. Allensworth. "But it seems to have
hurt their outcomes more than the lowest-ability kids." One possible
explanation, the researchers suggested, is that the lowest group had a
higher failure rate before the policy took effect.

The lack of test-score growth, Ms. Nomi said, may be because math classes
included children with a wider range of ability levels following the change,
which might have spurred some teachers to water down their teaching.

Whether similar sorts of algebra mandates--or efforts to teach algebra at
even younger ages-would have the same impact in other locations, however, is
unclear, said Leland S. Cogan, a senior researcher at the Center for
Research on Math and Science Education at Michigan State University in

"Some research suggests the longer you wait to expose students to algebra
the more difficulty they have making the transition," he said.

Vol. 28, Issue 24, Page 11

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