## Brain Development And Abstract Reasoning

Linda Gojak from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics says, My experience, both as a student and as a teacher, leads me to believe that we do more harm than good by placing students in a formal algebra course before they are ready, and few students are truly ready to understand the important concepts of algebra before eighth grade. Many students should wait until ninth grade. This is because an adolescents brain often hasnt had time to develop in abstract reasoning yet.

Think of it this way: Its somewhat like teaching a preschooler to tie shoelaces. You can show that child over and over, All you have to do is . . . No! The loop goes around. No! Not like that. Look, all you have to do . . . And they just dont get it. Everyone elses kid can tie their shoes. But not yours. Then, one morning, voila! They tie their shoes. What made the difference? Time.

Could success in math be that simple? Quite possibly. Studies show that many brains are just not ready for the abstract concepts of algebra until fourteen and sometimes fifteen years old. It has nothing to do with intelligence. Its simply a matter of time.

## When Should Kids Take Algebra I

Students typically take algebra in eighth or ninth grade. An important benefit of studying algebra in eighth grade is that if your child takes the PSAT as a high school sophomore, she will have taken geometry as a ninth grader. By the time shes ready to take the SAT or ACT as a junior, she will have completed Algebra II, which is covered in both of these college admissions tests.

Theres a growing movement to require algebra in seventh grade, but math educators say many seventh graders arent prepared for it.

Some kids get turned off of math because they start math too early, says Francis Skip Fennell, professor emeritus at McDaniel College and former president of NCTM. If youre wondering whether your child is ready to advance, he recommends talking to her current teacher. The goal is for your child to master algebra and stay engaged in math, not to push through the curriculum quickly just to get it done.

## Chicago Algebra Participation Improves But Lags The Nation Significantly

In 2003, about one third of 8th grade students nationwide took algebra in comparison to the City of Chicagos participation rate of less than 10%. To close the gap in algebra participation and success, the City of Chicago launched The Chicago Algebra Initiative. This effort has shown positive results however Chicago area 8th graders still significantly lag the nation in their rates of advanced math participation.

Over the past five years, the percent of 8th grade CPS students who took the Algebra Exit Exam doubled from 5% in 2008-2009 to 10% in 2012-2013. In addition, students performance on the Exam increased. In 2008-2009 only 39% of students received either a Pass or High Pass. By 2012-2013, this percent climbed to 56%.

Clearly, Chicago is headed in the right direction. However Chicagos 10% participation rate lags far behind the national rate of 47%.

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## Will My Child Be Ready For College Math

Wont waiting on Algebra I until 9th grade prevent my child from completing important college preparatory math courses? Not at all. A high schooler will still have opportunity to take a pre-Calculus class in 12th grade. More importantly, their foundation in algebra will be well established, ensuring a greater level of success in each subsequent math course.

Professor Cheryl Lowe from Memoria Press, a classical educator warns, Math is hard because it builds so relentlessly year after year through every year of the childs education. Any skill not mastered one year will make work difficult the next year. It is unforgiving. It has to be overlearned.

If a school has the option of two tracks, it may be a good move to examine the options. Dont let pride get in the way of your decision. Moving at an accelerated pace may be what you desire , but is it a good fit for your child? In the long run, a solid foundation in algebra is what creates the long term success in higher mathematics.

## How Should The Decision Be Made As To Which Math My Child Should Take

There are four indicators that can be used to determine which math course is right for your child:

1) a placement test

3) current grades

4) and most importantly, teacher recommendation.

Talking to your childs math teacher can give you a better understanding of your childs timetable for pre-Algebra. Also helpful is just an honest conversation with your child about how they feel about math. If they need side-by-side help with homework on a pretty regular basis or if they are still shaky on arithmetic, they need the extra time to develop.

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## Reducing The Role Of Recommendations

Before using EVAAS to help select algebra students, WFR did what the majority of schools still do relied on teacher recommendations. The first recommendation came in fifth grade when elementary school teachers suggest the advanced or regular math track. “But the recommendations come in the spring before the end-of-grade tests,” notes Patches Jacobs, one of WFR’s assistant principals. In addition, teachers routinely weeded out any pre-algebra students they didn’t think could handle algebra.

The EVAAS recommendations caused some consternation, Hanzer notes, but it also led to soul searching and some digging through the grade books. What the WFR math teachers discovered is that many of the students not recommended for advanced math were doing very well on class tests but they were getting average to poor grades for other reasons, such as not turning in homework.

## Algebra Questions With Answers And Solutions For Grade 8

Grade 8 algebra questions with solutions are presented. Questions on solving equations, simplifying expressions including expressions with fractions are included.

NOTE: In what follows, mixed numbers are written in the form a b/c. For example 2 1/3 means the mixed number 2 + 1/3.

**x**and

**y**. A) x2 – y2 , for x = 4 and y = 5B) |4x – 2y| , for x = -2 and y = 3C) 3×3 – 4y4 , for x = -1 and y = -2

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## A Real Look At Our Schools In The Big Apple

According to the official nyc.gov website:

Through Algebra for All, by 2022, every student will have access to algebra in eighth grade, complete algebra no later than ninth grade, and there will be academic supports in place in elementary and middle school to help more students become ready for algebra in eighth grade.

The supposition is that Algebra in 8th grade will lead to Geometry in 9th, Algebra 2 in 10th, Pre-Calculus in 11th, and Calculus in 12th.

Every single press release Mayor Bill de Blasios office sends out these days ends with a boilerplate paragraph trumpeting how:

Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction.

Algebra is presumably seen as a means to achieving the aforementioned Equity and Excellence for All.

As NYC school chancellor, Richard Carranza presumably supports the Algebra For All initiative. Hes the one in charge of implementing it!

And yet, when he was Chancellor of the San Francisco school system, Carranza was just as adamant that the way to achieve Equity and Excellence for All was to get rid of Algebra for all 8th graders.

A Bay Area parent writes:

But, as I wrote last November:

Of course, the top students scores didnt go down! They were being tested on material theyd already mastered! Thats like boasting that middle schoolers totally killed reading that Cat in the Hat passage!

## Iii Of The 2013 Brown Center Report On American Education

As recently as 1990, taking algebra in eighth grade was unique. That has changed dramatically in recent years, and now more eighth graders take algebra than any other math class. Enrollment in eighth-grade algebraand in other advanced math classesvaries by state. This section of the Brown Center Report exploits that variation to study the relationship of states enrollment in advanced math classes and scores on NAEP. The research question is whether a relationship exists between changes in advanced math enrollments and changes in 8th grade NAEP scores. Do states that boost advanced enrollments experience a concurrent increase in achievement? A second analysis uses the same technique to look at the potential that advanced courses are being watered down. Are rising enrollments associated with lower mean achievement in advanced classes?

**Background**

**NAEP Data on Advanced Math Enrollment**

Table 3-1 illustrates the steady increase of U.S. eighth-grade enrollment in advanced mathematics courses. The data are taken from the NAEP eighth-grade math assessment. Students are asked: what mathematics class are you taking this year? The category advanced mathematics combines several responses, including Algebra I, courses that stretch Algebra I content over two years , and courses that typically are more advanced than Algebra I, including Algebra II and Geometry. This amalgamated response is noisy and receives further discussion below.

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## Wfr Middle School Tripled Number Of Eighth

Former Principal Elaine Hanzer remembers the first time she saw the list of students that SAS® EVAAS® for K-12 suggested would be good candidates for eighth-grade algebra at the school . At the top of the list was a student she knew personally and not because he was a stellar student. He had been in her office for other reasons, had not taken pre-algebra, and was not recommended by teachers for higher-level math classes. “At first, I could hardly believe what I was seeing,” says Hanzer, who just retired as Principal at WFR. “And then a realization set in that child was me.” Back in high school, Hanzer had to convince a high school guidance counselor that she was capable of taking the classes necessary to attend college after years of being tracked into non-college prep classes.

EVAAS evaluates several years of end-of-grade testing to predict a student’s ability to study higher-level subjects. Available to all North Carolina schools, it is widely used to place students in eighth-grade algebra. Taking algebra in eighth grade is considered a key stepping stone that allows students to progress to calculus by 12th grade. Students who take calculus in high school have a greater chance of successfully finishing a four-year college degree – particularly if they want to major in a STEM field.

It’s harsh to say, but teachers have prejudices, it takes those out and you start dealing with fact you know what a student is capable of.

**Elaine Hanzer**Former Principal

## Why Isnt My Eighth Grader Successful With Algebra

Algebra has procedural rules which must be followed exactly in order to get a correct answer–line per line to balance an equation. The problem is, many eighth graders are in a profound, But WHY? stage. This cannot be ignored. Logic-age students want to understand the whys and wherefores of a procedure. They are not likely to submit without a debate. This is a useful practice for other subjects, such as science or English, but it halts the process of algebra.

Just follow the yellow brick road, I sometimes tell my sixth graders. In other words, follow the procedure even if you dont understand it now. Understanding will come down the road. But this goes against the grain of a middle schooler who has a propensity to question until they understand. Therefore, waiting until ninth grade when abstract visualization is easier just makes sense.

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## Algebra In The 8th Grade

Over the past 15 years, increasing middle school student participation in algebra has become a national priority. As President Clinton observed in 1998,Around the world, middle school students are learning algebra and geometry. Here at home just a quarter of students take algebra before high school. This nationwide effort has increased middle school student participation in algebra classes dramatically. In 2011, nearly half of students took algebra or another advanced math class in 8th grade up from 27% in 2000.

Elite universities expect that students have taken some calculus in high school. If a student starts with basic algebra in 9th grade, he or she has three remaining years to complete Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry and then Calculus. In addition, many high schools offer statistics as well. Taking algebra in 8th grade opens up an additional year for advanced math in high school.

Research has shown that participation in advanced math in high school is more strongly associated with successful completion of college than any other factor, including GPA and socioeconomic status.

## Learn More In This Education Talk Radio Podcast Featuring Rodolpho Loureiro And Urban Assembly Executive Director David Adams

Rodolpho Loureiro is the Math Program Manager at the Urban Assembly. He currently runs the Algebra Success program, an equity-driven program that addresses issues of discourse in their classroom by prioritizing students needs so that students complete Algebra by grade 9. Algebra Success is funded by NY Community Trust.

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## A Call To Push Algebra Completion For Eighth Graders

Algebra is Key to Closing Academic & Opportunity Gaps

Twenty years ago, a guidance counselor attempted to make a decision that would have had a major effect on my academic and professional trajectory due to her own biases. I had just completed sixth grade and my math teacher recommended that I enroll in Algebra 1 the following year. However, my guidance counselor , opposed the request, despite the fact that I was excelling in math.

Luckily my mother, a hard-working undocumented immigrant, successfully advocated for my enrollment into Algebra 1 as a seventh grader. Years later, I would understand that this decision was a pivotal moment that led towards my admission to the University of Pennsylvania and opened a number of postsecondary opportunities. After graduating from college, I decided to become an educator and advocate for Black and Brown youth so that they can reach their greatest potential in the classroom.

Many students notably Black and Brown students, continue to be systematically excluded from taking the math courses they are capable of taking. Most students should take Algebra 1 in 8th grade in order to ensure their academic and postsecondary opportunities, yet many do not. Educators, guidance counselors, and school leaders should work together to ensure that students complete an early sequence of math courses so that they can access the greatest suite of academic and postsecondary options.

#### Early access to courses like Algebra is an equity issue

## High School Math Course Planning

Dear Parents,

Your teen will be starting high school soon. This winter they will choose the classes they will take in high school. Students must take high school math classes in a certain order. But, they do have some choices. One choice is the level of the math classes that they will take. The levels are basic, honors, or AP. Another choice is how many math classes they will take during high school. These choices are explained in the High School Classes Offered to Students section of this page.

Most parents have power to influence teens choices. Many people think that teens ignore their parents advice. But teens do listen to their parents. Teens listen most about important things like their education and job choices.

We hope that you will encourage your teen to take as many math courses as possible in high school. The resources on these webpages, in the brochure and in our Facebook posts will help you and your teen discover the importance of mathematics.

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## Say Goodbye To Eighth

- Copy Link URLCopied!

Eighth-grade math is changing: Instead of emphasizing Algebra I where only some students thrive, many schools are placing all students in the same general class that covers several concepts.

Common Core standards for the eighth grade call for all students to learn the same general math concepts, a departure from the push toward Algebra I that middle schools made in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Common Core is a set of English and math learning standards that most states have adopted, meant to be more rigorous and uniform than states’ previous learning goals.

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A new study from the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research group, found that the percentage of students in advanced math classes has decreased, while the share of students in general math has gone up.

That doesn’t mean that the “general” classes are less difficult than Algebra I. Instead, they’re supposed to include concepts of algebra, geometry and statistics. But in his study, author Tom Loveless considered advanced classes to include Algebra I, and general math enrollment to include Common Core math classes.

That change is even more stark in California since 2013, when the state got rid of incentives for middle schools to offer Algebra I, instead shifting its focus to Common Core math implementation.

But the shifts tell Loveless that as Common Core gains ground, fewer students are being pushed into algebra.

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