The Algebra Mandate Debate

In a study released Monday, the Brookings Institute, an independent education research firm, challenged MinnesotaâÄôs requirement that all eighth graders will be required to complete Algebra I starting in 2010. According to state officials, this will help prepare students for high school math. In the past few years, Minnesota has been revising its curriculum to provide for a more rigorous course of study. Although we acknowledge some of the Brookings InstituteâÄôs argument, the new Algebra I mandate will be beneficial for the Minnesota public school system. The Brookings Institute has raised concerns with the algebra mandate, claiming that more than 120,000 eighth graders nationwide are ill-prepared for advanced math classes, and forcing the students to take them will come with âÄúdamaging consequences.âÄù We feel that the stateâÄôs public school system will face even more damaging consequences if it does not meet the demands of a changing education landscape. Only 62 percent of Minnesota students received a proficient score on the MCA-II exam in 2008. It is time to start pushing our students to improve their performance. If the teachers are up to the challenge of incorporating such a curriculum, our schools should be ready and willing to give it a run. The new algebra mandate will force schools to structure their curriculum around a rigorous course of study to help meet the needs of todayâÄôs post-secondary requirements. High school is about getting a student prepared for college, and the schools should do this in every way they can. We should not take a relaxed approach to getting students prepared for college. Although the mandate will face its challenges, the Minnesota Department of Education has made the right decision with the upcoming Algebra mandate.