When the Los Angeles Board of Education approved tougher graduation requirements that went into effect in 2003, the intention was to give kids a better education and groom more graduates for college and high-level jobs. For the first time, students had to pass a year of algebra and a year of geometry or an equivalent class to earn diplomas. The policy was born of a worthy goal but has proved disastrous for students unprepared to meet the new demands. In the fall of 2004, 48,000 ninth-graders took beginning algebra; 44% flunked, nearly twice the failure rate as in English. Seventeen percent finished with Ds. In all, the district that semester handed out Ds and Fs to 29,000 beginning algebra students — enough to fill eight high schools the size of Birmingham. Among those who repeated the class in the spring, nearly three-quarters flunked again.
Things have, apparently, not improved.
A couple of years later, I reported that the local University of Arizona would begin teaching remedial high-school algebra to incoming (and unprepared) freshmen, so it’s not like it’s something restricted to Los Angeles.
However, LA has decided to DO SOMETHING about it!
Yeah. That’ll work.