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Q&A #1691


Should algebra be taught in 8th grade?

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From: Jenny (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 24, 1999 at 08:34:15
Subject: Re: Algebra for 8th graders

That certainly could be a political "hot potato" given the current climate in
many areas.  My school district has 11 middle schools (grades 7 &
8) and 11 high schools (also 59 elementary schools).  We are mostly a middle-
class district and offer algebra in 8th grade (and for some of our very
advanced 7th grade students), primarily due to parents and school pressure.
We have what I consider a strong 8th grade curriculum, which gives students a
wonderful background in all the mathematical strands and more than prepares
them for Algebra in high school, but since we skim off the top students for
Algebra in 8th grade, many of these classes are taught as remedial
mathematics courses.  All students taking Algebra in middle school must take
a Criterion-Referenced Test before receiving a credit in high school algebra.
Our pass rate for this is about 33% with around 800 students taking the test
this year.

Our progression for college-bound students is Algebra 1 (in middle or high
school), geometry, Algebra 2, trigonometry/pre-calculus, and calculus. We
offer an optional statistics/discrete math course for students who have
completed algebra 2.  Regardless of whether you are college-bound or not, all
students in our district are exposed to the essential concepts of Algebra 1
within their first 2 years of high school mathematics.  2 years of high
school mathematics are required for graduation.  However, not all of those
students take a traditional Algebra 1 course.

The College Board has an initiative called Equity 2000, which might have
some of the statistics you ask about. Start by looking at their web page:

   http://www.collegeboard.org/equity/html/indx001.html

One other resource is the TIMSS data.  Start at the Math Forum's page

   http://mathforum.org/social/timss/

 -Jenny, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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