Public Affairs

San Bernardino Students Get a Math Boost and Reach for College at CSU Summer Algebra Institute

Summer Algebra Student study.
Student Owen Hill, 10, volunteers to read for the class at the CSU Summer
Algebra Institute.

July 31, 2009
By Erik Fallis

Chris Brown turned to a room full of 8th and 9th graders, asking "Could you graph that line for me?" Several students responded no, not by themselves. Brown assured them that by the end of the day, they will be able to graph the line on their own. He also encouraged the students in the class to "get used to writing rise over run."

Brown is a credentialed instructor who, with the help of two tutors, is teaching 35 San Bernardino students (grades 6 through 9) the fundamentals of math through the CSU Summer Algebra Institute. The institute is a partnership between the California State University and the Temple Learning Center, which is affiliated with Temple Missionary Baptist Church.

CSU Summer Algebra instructor Chris Brown responds to student questions.
CSU Summer Algebra instructor Chris
Brown responds to student questions.

This summer, 16 institutes are providing instruction to some 500 students statewide. Each institute is a partnership between CSU and a church. The summer algebra instruction is part of the CSU African American Initiative designed to begin removing the barriers to college education. One of the most daunting barriers is mathematics.

"Students who take and excel in high school algebra are more likely to succeed in college," said Milton Clark, dean of undergraduate studies for CSU San Bernardino.  "If we can build students' confidence and skills in math, we can open up career options for their future and greatly improve their chances of earning a college degree."

Each summer algebra institute offers four half-day sessions of intense algebra training, plus one half-day of academic enrichment, every week. The program runs for a month or longer, and–in a year where most state supported programs are shrinking–the CSU Summer Algebra Institutes increased from three in 2008 to 16 in 2009.

Lisa Blacksher, principal of the Temple Learning Center, pointed to both short and long-term benefits of the institute. "It keeps students focused on school and studying when they are on break, while establishing a comfort level in algebra so that students will have better grades and higher test scores at the high school level and success in their college math courses."

Learn more about CSU Summer Algebra Institutes throughout the state.