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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