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Students failing algebra rarely recover

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Of all the challenges in our public schools, this might be the single most critical: how can more young Americans be effectively taught algebra? Without truly grasping the principles of algebra, it's difficult to learn programming, many trades, or even how to use a spreadsheet.

 In our house, the answer is "don't wait for some middle school teacher to screw it up." Our daughter started learning algebra last year, while still in 5th grade, using an self-paced online service called ALEKS. This year is her first year of middle school math and she's getting an A+.

This warms my heart, Jeffrey.

These numbers are horrifyingly bad:

Just over a third of students in the 24 school districts studied had to repeat Algebra I either in ninth or 10th grade, yet even after a second year of study, relatively few were proficient in the subject.

Of those who took the class in eighth grade and repeated it as freshmen, just 1 in 5 scored at a proficient level on standardized tests. And of those who repeated as sophomores, 9 percent were proficient.

So basically, a third of the population gets left behind when it comes to math.

Sad and scary.

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