2009/10 Support Budget II

Additional Challenges

Algebra Readiness Initiative, $3.0 Million

In July 2008, the 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 pre-service 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.

The request will enable the CSU to implement a program that will help to prepare students and teachers to meet requirements in algebra. Currently, although approximately 50 percent of California eighth graders take Algebra I, less than half of these students demonstrate proficiency in the subject. A large number of students need to re-take it, with the attendant costs of repeat classes. Further, inadequate preparation in algebra has a direct impact on student performance on the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). Approximately one-quarter of 10th grade students taking the CAHSEE failed to pass the mathematics section of the test, which measures algebraic understanding. The costs to the state and the personal consequences for students who fail in these areas are significant. The proposed approaches represent a cost-effective strategy for improving teacher and student readiness and preparation for algebra success.

Algebra Readiness Initative Program Components FY 2009/10 Ongoing
Campus Delivery of Teacher Development Programs  
Professional Development for Current K-8 Teachers $1,000,000
Enhanced Pre-Service Preparation for Elementary Teachers 440,000
Mathematics Specialist Preparation for K-8 Teacher Leaders 500,000
Campus Implementation of Tutoring Programs $660,000
CSU Center for Advanced Mathematics  
Statewide Director (salary and benefits) $155,000
Faculty Co-Director (faculty buy-out replacement rate, no benefits) 60,000
Statewide clerical support (salary and benefits) 50,000
Statewide conferences, meetings 75,000
Supplies, facilities, and expenses 60,000
Total Proposed Budget Change $3,000,000