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San Diego, Imperial County Educators Gather To Improve Algebra Education

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to when the California State University system decided to drop its intermediate algebra requirements for non-STEM students.

A poster for the San Diego Math Network's conference on intermediate algebra ...

Credit: San Diego Math Network

Above: A poster for the San Diego Math Network's conference on intermediate algebra on Aug. 11, 2017.

San Diego, Imperial County Educators Gather To Improve Algebra Education


Susan Yonezawa, associate director, UC San Diego Center for Research on Educational Equity


Is dropping an algebra requirement for college admission a win for struggling students or a loss for the fields of science and technology?

San Diego and Imperial County educators will meet Friday to discuss how intermediate algebra is taught, a week after the California State University system dropped the algebra requirement for students who aren't STEM field majors. Community colleges have seen intermediate algebra become a stumbling block for up to 65 percent of students who needed to pass it to enter a California state university.

"The wheels fall off the bus in intermediate algebra. You can learn procedures, plug-and-chug, and it will kind of get you by until this point," said Susan Yonezawa, associate director of the UC San Diego Center for Research on Educational Equity. "The other issue is that math is different from other subjects—it’s cumulative in a way that other subjects are not. This all starts in second or third grade, leading up to 10th grade."

Yonezawa is also co-director of the San Diego Math Network, a partnership between UC San Diego and leaders from the area’s four major school districts, which is hosting the conference. The Friday symposium will include K-12 educators along with community college and four-year university leaders, who will review data on algebra instruction and develop new ways to improve student performance. Yonezawa said that while CSU's decision to waive intermediate algebra requirements may prove successful, isn't likely to happen at local high schools.

"Giving up on Algebra II that early signals that a student is giving up on STEM," she said. "There’s a discomfort among many people that a 10th-grader should have the right to say they’re off the rails for a number of lucrative careers. The other thing is that until last week, it has been every college’s standards."

Participants will discuss a Mesa College-Kearny High School collaboration that led to an intermediate algebra class that accelerates high school students through a remedial course.

Yonezawa joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday to discuss the ongoing efforts to improve algebra education.


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