kitchen table math, the sequel: algebra in 8th grade

Monday, April 12, 2010

algebra in 8th grade

Take the guideline that most college-bound students should proceed through the K-12 math curriculum--a hierarchy of classes stepping from simple arithmetic to calculus--at a pace that lands them in algebra in ninth grade. This is too easy for most children. In a regular middle school two of my children attended, all of the students took algebra in or before eighth grade and over 80 percent mastered it, putting them one or more years ahead in math.

Entire countries of students accomplish this routinely. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study, conducted in 1996, found that the material taught in U.S. eighth-grade math classes was taught in the seventh grade in many other developed countries and even earlier in Japan and Germany. As a result, U.S. eighth graders performed significantly poorer on a standardized math test than eighth graders in twenty other countries, and far poorer than Japanese students, who scored highest. Overall, U.S. elementary and middle school math education lags a full year behind that in dozens of countries and one and a half years behind Japan and Germany.

Math Coach by Wayne Wickelgren, p. 4

2 comments:

Crimson Wife said...

My goal to to try to get my kids taking Algebra I in 7th. That way they'll be able to do integral calculus in 12th rather than college.

If they aren't ready for Algebra I in 7th they'll have to double up on geometry and Algebra II in 9th.

Allison said...

The second part of the St. Paul "solution" that makes me so mad (the first being the fraud that they pretend to teach ahead, but instead, they game the system)

is that you CANNOT TEACH MORE BY TEACHING LESS.

I'm sure that there's some ed school quip somewhere "we teach more by teaching less", with some lip service paid to how slowing down the material makes it easier to grok, and therefore, the student matures and learns more than otherwise

but it's just not true. The sentence itself should be a syllogism. Slowing down means YOU TEACH LESS. Teaching a one year course in two years is TEACHING LESS. You cannot make these students better at algebra, better prepared for other 1 year math courses by taking two years to learn it.