> I would like to find some research regarding the developmental age for > students to take a structured Algebra course. Typically it has been the > freshman year of high school. I am trying to find data that supports or > disputes this. Thanks. > > Deb Smith > firstname.lastname@example.org > I hesitate posting because of the "flaming flamers," but I am involved in a project whereby we introduce algebraic rudiments at 1st grade using a computerized math manipulative program called Mouse-N-Math. Local teachers have students form "expressions" such as 2R + 2G = O. First graders have no problem understanding that letters R and G are "variables" needed to solve for "O." R = Red, G = Green, and O = Orange. It is a way to "play" with numbers (values) in a format that uses "letters" to make a mathematical expression. What I do not know how to do and invite comments and suggestions is to carry on the process in grades 2,3,4,5...in a way that is meaningful and builds on previous learning.
If children using Mouse-N-Math can handle "expressions" like 2R + 2G = O, and I have seen many kids do this, then I don't feel that waiting until the 9th grade for algebra makes much sense. Personally, I think it has to do with teaching conceptually vs rote procedures. If introduced early and progressively I see no reason for kids to not be doing algebra in elementary school.
BTW, Mouse-N-Math is a freeware program developed by local teachers in an attempt to live by the spirit of the NCTM standards.