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Math decision doesn’t add up for Hart

Eighth-graders now must take algebra, state says

Posted: July 11, 2008 1:12 a.m.
Updated: September 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Hart district officials were caught a bit off guard Wednesday after the state Board of Education voted to adopt Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal requiring all eighth-graders to take Algebra 1.

“I’m sending out information to principals, counselors and math teachers now and telling them not to panic,” said Vicki Engbrecht, assistant superintendent of educational services for the William S. Hart Union High School District. “This is a surprise to all of us.”

Previously, California eighth-graders were enrolled in an appropriate mathematics course based on their current level of achievement, with the requirement that all students pass an algebra course in order to obtain a high school diploma. Districts have three years to meet the new requirement that all eighth-grade students take Algebra 1.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell had proposed changes to standardized tests that would determine eighth graders’ knowledge of algebra, while allowing the students to remain in an algebra-readiness program.

“I’m very distressed and more than disappointed that the state Board of Education has voted to implement Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposal regarding eighth-grade algebra, which 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 statement.

The Hart district was in full support of O’Connell’s proposal to change standardized tests, and Engbrecht said she was surprised that the governor’s proposal was adopted.

“It is not a proposal that has been discussed with either administrators or math teachers. This is completely new information that has not been communicated before,” she said.

Schwarzenegger announced his position and gave direction to state board members less than 24 hours before Wednesday’s meeting, according to O’Connell’s statement. Engbrecht said the Hart district is going to wait for more information regarding the new requirement before making any changes.

“This fall, students will start out in the classes that they had originally been scheduled to take, whether that be Algebra 1, an algebra readiness course or a multi-year algebra program,” she said.


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