An ambitious effort to better prepare students for college is now just a footnote in history books after the State Board of Education eliminated Algebra I standards for 8th graders last month, but the statewide change will most likely have little impact in Cupertino schools.
The controversial plan required school districts to teach Algebra I in middle school, a mathematics course that most other states offer to high schoolers, according to NBC 4 News.
But the State Board of Education dumped the Algebra I requirement last month, favoring standards that will mirror the national Common Core standards, EdSource reported. That means no more required Algebra I for 8th graders, though there are plans to develop accelerated courses of study for students who have the skills to comprehend the Algebra I curriculum.
“There will be no real direct impact on us,” said Jeremy Nishihara, spokesman for Cupertino Union School District.
The school district already offered Geometry as an alternative to Algebra I and will continue to do so.
“We were aligning with the Common Core anyway.”
The state launched Algebra I for middle school students 15 years ago to put students on a path to take Calculus as high school seniors, according to this Mercury News report. The advanced math study is encouraged for college-bound students and expected by high-level universities.
About 58 percent of 8th graders in the Cupertino Union School District took Algebra I during the 2011-12 school year, and a little more than 23 percent of 7th graders took the class. Of those 1,171 8th graders, better than 57 percent rated "advanced" in STAR test results and 28 percent were "proficient".
Of the 455 7th graders who took the class 95 percent ranked as “advanced” and five percent were “proficient”.
About 24 percent of 8th graders took Geometry, or 483 students. Their “advanced” rates were at 92 percent and eight percent were “proficient”.
While statewide more students enrolled in Algebra I as 8th graders, there have been concerns about students struggling with the curriculum. The standards require students to keep retaking the course until they pass.
Complicating the matter was a move by the state two years ago that created two sets of middle school math standards. Federal No Child Left Behind statues don't allow for dueling curriculum.
The new 8th grade math course will be more rigorous than a general pre-algebra class but not as complex as Algebra I, Tom Adams, head of California's curriculum framework and instructional resources, told NBC 4 News. It will be rolled out for the 2014-15 school year.