Study: Pushing kids into algebra doesn't help
A new study from the University of Chicago suggests pushing all ninth graders into college prep courses, ready or not, may be doing more harm than good.
Researchers at the Consortium on Chicago School Research found that failure rates jumped after all ninth graders were required to take algebra. Test scores didn't budge, and students were no more likely to pursue advanced math classes later.
"This policy that Chicago tried (beginning) in 1997 seems to be sweeping the country now, and not a lot of thought is being given to how it really affects schools," researcher Elaine M. Allensworth told Education Week.
Students of average ability saw the highest jump in failure rates, 8.9 percent, while failures in the lowest quartile -- where students were often failing even before the change -- increased by 3 percent.
The study, which followed 160,000 students between1994 and 2005, found "no observable benefits to enrolling in Algebra I instead of remedial math."
Well, that's not entirely true. The researchers found one benefit. Every student got that Carnegie Unit credit for Algebra I.
Tom Marshall, Times staff writer