2009/10 Support Budget I

Algebra Readiness Initiative, $3 Million

In July 2008, the California State Board of Education took action requiring that all eighth-grade students take Algebra I and pass a statewide Algebra I assessment. California took action on the issue as a result of a requirement from the U.S. Department of Education that the state align its testing program with its eighth grade math standards. Although the issue has become the subject of a court case over procedural matters, the state still needs to comply with the U.S. Department of Education requirement, and significant actions need to be taken to increase preparation for algebra.

California must address major challenges in order to prepare its students and teachers for middle school algebra, the gatekeeper to later mathematics and to academic opportunities beyond high school. More than 74,000 California middle school students were enrolled in Algebra I classes in 2007 in which the teacher was either assigned "out-of-field" or underprepared. These teachers typically lack the background and preparation necessary to effectively teach algebra and require professional development to gain essential knowledge and skills.

California student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) demonstrates the seriousness of the problem. In 2007, only 30 percent of fourth graders and 24 percent of eighth-grade students in the state demonstrated proficiency on the NAEP tests in mathematics. The state ranked below more than 40 other states at both grade levels, demonstrating the need for substantial strengthening of the mathematics preparation of students in grades K-8 and their teachers. The poor performance indicates the importance of training mathematics specialists for grades K-8 who can provide support to other teachers at the school site. It also indicates the need for tutoring to assist struggling students to master the knowledge and skills required to achieve proficiency in algebra.

This supplemental funding request of $3 million is proposed to strengthen pre-algebra and algebra instruction and to improve readiness and performance of California students for success in Algebra I. It includes five components:

  • A CSU Center for Advancement of Mathematics
  • Professional development for current teachers at the elementary and middle school levels
  • Enhanced preservice preparation in mathematics for new elementary teachers
  • Preparation of mathematics specialists with the expertise to assist other teachers at elementary and middle school sites
  • Work study funds and training for CSU students to tutor struggling elementary and middle school students in mathematics