(USNewsMag.com) – The move by the Massachusetts public school system to phase out Algebra 1 has some parents putting their kids in private schools or homeschooling.
In a move to create better “equity” for students, the Cambridge Public Schools have been phasing out advanced math classes since 2017. Officials say they are moving away from grade-level and accelerated courses because the grade-level courses were filled with Hispanic and Black students, while the accelerated courses were filled with mostly Asian and white students. One parent, who is also a Harvard physicist, called the situation “deeply inequitable.”
In 2019, the then-Cambridge Street Upper School Principal said that students couldn’t continue to be divided this way, saying students “believe the smart kids are the white kids.”
Cambridge Public School Superintendent Victoria Greer stated that the “district is not interested” in perpetuating academic achievement and opportunity gaps. The district’s math department website says its focus is on equity, with a mission to “create equitable mathematics communities.”
While Algebra 1 is still listed on the school’s website, it also lists a new math course to be taken by all eighth-grade students, which has three out of the seven units taught in Algebra 1 courses. A free summer program is offered to incoming high school students that allows them to place out of Algebra 1. However, an email to parents states that no teachers will be recommending any students to “place out of Algebra 1.” For those who do not take the summer program, they will need to take an additional math course in order to qualify to take other advanced math courses, such as Calculus, later in high school.
However, the move has left some parents concerned about their child’s future academic success.
Cambridge is not the first school district to eliminate advanced courses in an effort to achieve equity. San Francisco as well as Escondido, California, schools have also eliminated math courses with various degrees of difficulty.
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