Fairfax Readies More 8th Graders for Algebra
Fairfax has taken a slower approach to middle school Algebra than most places. The only option now is an honors course that about half of eighth graders (and some 7th grades) take. Average math students are stuck with pre-Algebra.
But the school system is looking to bolster its numbers of 8th graders in Algebra with a non-Honors course next fall. They started this year with a pilot program at a couple of middle schools.
Two teachers from Hughes Middle School told the school board at its last meeting that the early venture has been a huge success so far. It's too early to know if every one will pass, but anyone who doesn't can always retake the course in ninth grade.
"My students were flattered to be placed in Algebra," one teachers said, but the intimidation and the power of the name "ALGEBRA" made them pay more attention and work harder.
"Raise the bar; It works," she said.
A common complaint about early Algebra is that students who are weak in basic math skills will not be ready. But she said that the Algebra course reviews a lot of basic math and can help students learn the skills by applying them in a more sophisticated way.
**On a side note, some school board members quipped that they could not remember what Algebra was and one vowed she would "solve a quadratic equation before I die." The youngest member of the board, student representative Arvin Ahmadi from Thomas Jefferson High school for Science and Technology regaled the board with the quadratic formula set to music.
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