The data reveal an Achilles' heel in a district that is increasing its effort to have students take higher level math and science. But district officials are discovering that zeroing in on why algebra performance is faltering is like an equation with too many variables.
"Is it family education? Is it poverty or race? Is a school not providing enough personal attention to students to find out exactly why they're not passing? It could be a combination of any of these," said Anne Arundel's chief school performance officer, George Arlotto, a former high school math and science teacher.
I find it ironic that they didn't plug "reform math" into the "equation with too many vaiables". Could it not be Everyday Mathematics, TERC Investigations, CMP are sending the ranks into high school unprepared? Could it not possibly be that minorities and underprivledged students don't have access to Kumon, Sylvan or expensive private tutors to undo the damage?
Well, at least school board member Eugene Peterson got something really right by admitting that his district needs to do a better job of preparing students to take algebra by the eighth grade.
He said, "It's competitive out there now. You're DOA in high school if you don't have algebra by middle school."