Just in the past few weeks, the state of California quietly decided to move proficiency in algebra from the eighth-grade requirement back to the ninth grade.
Many of you might not remember a few years back that algebra proficiency was moved to eighth from ninth grade. At the time, the powers that be made much fanfare about it. They triumphantly explained that this was proof that they would hold teachers accountable for rigor in the classroom.
The same attempt by our political leaders to appear they are doing something birthed the bipartisan No Child Left Behind movement of 2001. They promised that utopian idea that 100 percent of students would be proficient in English and math by 2014. All schools that failed to meet these standards would feel the wrath of government coming in and taking them over.
Research has shown that students do not develop abstract reason abilities sufficient to comprehend algebra until the ninth and 10th grades. Forcing students to study a subject that they are not yet intellectually equipped to perform only leads to frustration, which can affect their future desire to learn math.
No Child Left Behind does not take into account students who speak little English, students who have mental challenges, or students who find a home life not conducive to optimum learning.
This is not to say schools and teachers should not be held accountable. That must be done.
This is just a call to understand when reform is true reform and when it is just illusion pretending to be reform.