Raising Expectations for Mathematics Instruction in California: Algebra and Beyond

March, 2010

This policy and practice brief builds on dialogue that began in response to the California State Board of Education’s July 2008 motion to make Algebra 1 the test of record for California’s eighth grade students. While this decision has since been overturned, districts need to continue to think of ways to help all students meet high standards in mathematics, recognizing the gateway that algebra provides to higher mathematics and college access. To this end, the brief discusses ways in which districts can approach the creation of strong K-12 mathematics curriculum, appropriate placement of students in mathematics courses, enhancement of instructional capacity, and provision of supports for struggling students given the current fiscal and political context in California. The brief concludes with a set of policy recommendations.