Jay Matthews, a columnist at The Washington Post, writes about Common Core’s delay of Algebra I to high school. He sees the delay of Algebra I as a miscalculation that will lead to fewer students taking higher level math in high school.
I was a good math student. I took calculus during my senior year of high school, a big goal for parents who want their children to take algebra in eighth grade. But I found the Common Core website to be inscrutable. Parents who need a clear reason for restraining math acceleration in middle school are not getting it.
Instead, they listen, fidgeting, as educational leaders such as San Francisco Schools Superintendent Richard Carranza tell them to trust the educators. “This is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval of our teachers,” he told 640 parents at a raucous discussion of Common Core math.
Tom Loveless, a Brookings Institution nonresident senior fellow, says the reduction in eighth-grade algebra appears to have made headway nationally. The portion of eighth-graders in advanced math has declined from 48 percent in 2013 to 43 percent in 2015. But that trend is less evident in the Washington area.
Virginia, not a Common Core state, has no barriers to eighth-grade algebra. Seventy-four percent of Arlington County eighth-graders completed algebra or more in 2015. In Loudoun County, that portion was 80 percent, and in Fauquier County, it was 55 percent.
Suburban Maryland and D.C. schools have adopted the Common Core without, so far, the eighth-grade math change. Mathematically advanced D.C. eighth-graders declined slightly from 41.8 percent in 2013 to 40.3 percent in 2015, but Brian Pick, D.C. schools chief of teaching and learning, said, “for students ready to access higher levels of math, for example eighth-graders taking algebra I or geometry, we ensure that happens.”
While students 8th grade may still be able take Algebra I in a lot of different school districts the stats show, according to the Brookings Institute, a different story. It’s no longer a priority, and as many of us who oppose Common Core have stated in the past the standards will take most students to Algebra II as the standards themselves do not cover advanced math.
This will not adequately prepare students for STEM programs in college. So calling this a miscalculation is probably an understatement.