“We think we have a lot of programs in place and our success rate is very good,” he said. “We don’t know why the governor is doing this.”
Others in the educational field are also concerned with the requirement, including state Superintendent Jack O’Connell.
“I’m very distressed and more than disappointed that the state Board of Education has voted to implement Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal regarding eighth grade algebra that would severely impact students and schools without any discussion beforehand with educators in the field and with completely inadequate public notice,” O’Connell said in a released statement.
At present, the normal math courses for Glendale students are that seventh-graders take introduction to algebra, eighth-graders take pre-algebra and ninth-graders take algebra 1.
The district has a path for those students who are advanced in math.
A seventh-grader can take introduction to algebra over the summer at Rosemont Middle School if they have strong test scores and are recommended by their sixth grade teacher. These students are normally prepared for advanced math throughout their elementary school career.
Students on this path can then continue to algebra 1 in seventh grade and geometry in eighth.
With the present system, the Glendale district’s Academic Performance Index test scores are strong, reflecting that the students are working well within these parameters.
“We are more concerned about our kids,” Sheehan said of the new requirements.
He added that the additional pressure placed on both teachers and students to pass algebra 1 would cause some students to be placed into an accelerated math program before they are ready.
This is echoed by other educators, including Dan Fendel, professor of mathematics at San Francisco State University who stated, “At the present time, many thousands of students are already enrolled prematurely in algebra 1 and the failure rate is horrendous. The governor’s plan would make this situation even worse.”
Sheehan added that the district is now analyzing what this means to its students and teaching staff.
“There was no warning [of the requirement],” he said. “They snuck this through at the last minute.”
What this new requirement, which calls for implementation within three years, means for the district is still being discussed and analyzed by Glendale administrators.