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Q&A #7311


Algebra for all 8th graders

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From: Suzanne A. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 22, 2001 at 07:18:07
Subject: Re: Algebra for all 8th graders

Dear Peter,

Please realize that the Teacher2Teacher service has teachers from around the 
country who provide responses and we don't have any "answers" but rather 
suggestions from our own experience. Your questions are difficult since there 
are many opinions on the issue of "all 8th graders taking algebra" which for 
me is sometimes labeled "algebra for all."

In California where I taught for many years before leaving after the 1999-2000 
school year, the state government has mandated an "algebra for all" program 
and many expect that it will take at least 8 years for it to be reasonable 
that all students can successfully complete an Algebra I course in the 8th 
grade. In my opinion, this would only be achievable in a perfect world when 
the elementary teachers successfully use the mathematics curriculum prescribed 
for grades K through 5 and then the 6th and 7th grade teachers also 
successfully use the mathematics curriculum prescribed at their grade level. 
Since there are so many variables I think it is more reasonable to think that 
we may be able to have "more" students ready to take Algebra I at the 8th 
grade level but not all. I personally think it is better to provide algebra 
readiness skills for those students not yet ready for Algebra I rather than 
having "all" take it but many fail. 

Now the other thing to consider is, what do you mean by Algebra I? There are 
different methods to use in that course. If it is taught traditionally with 
only the symbolic notation and no cross-references to geometrical thinking or 
real-world examples then even more students at the 8th grade level won't be 
ready.

I looked on the Web to find some information on this topic for you. This is 
what I found:

Algebra for All?
http://www.picciotto.org/math-ed/algebra-for-all.html

Algebra Benefits All Students, Study Finds
http://www.edweek.org/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=11math.h20

Teaching Strategies for "Algebra for All"
http://www.nctm.org/mt/2000/10/strategies.html

Algebra for All (K-12)
http://www.tenet.edu/teks/math/mathforall/algforall.html

My other thought would be for you to look at the revised standards that 
California adopted in their quest to have an elementary curriculum that leads 
to algebra in the 8th grade. You can view those standards here:

http://www.cde.ca.gov/standards/

 -Suzanne A., for the T2T service

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