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New Research Shows Repeating Algebra Does Not Benefit Students

New Research Shows Repeating Algebra Does Not Benefit Students

Algebra can be difficult for some students, but retaking the class may not be the best strategy for those who struggle with the subject, according to a recent study.

Data from California schools have revealed "more than 80 percent of students retaking the course still did not meet proficiency on state algebra exams," said an article on EducationByTheNumbers.org.

"One of the most often repeated courses in U.S. high schools is algebra," the article said. "Teachers and school leaders understandably worry whether a student who can’t solve basic equations should move on in math, to geometry or advanced algebra. So the student takes algebra again. Sometimes, even students with B’s in algebra are asked to repeat it because their teachers are concerned that they haven’t mastered the material."

According to the article, "a growing body of research is showing that when you march a teenager through the same algebra class again, it doesn’t help much."

"And this is part of an overall picture of students repeating classes or an entire year of school without good results," the article said. "Without addressing a child’s underlying learning issues or missing foundations, repetition alone is rarely effective and sometimes harmful."

The new California study, conducted for the U.S. Department of Education, "reinforces this," the article said.

Anthony B. Fong, the lead researcher at WestEd who conducted this November 2014 study, said: “This is what is going on in schools across the country: It’s not an option to do anything else than retake the class with the same book and same curriculum."

"Who Repeats Algebra I, and How does initial performance related to improvement when the course is repeated?"Fong added.

"It found that students who had gotten at least a C in the course the first time around, and had passed the state algebra assessment, were harmed by taking the course a second time," said the article. "Both their grades and test scores declined. Lower performing students improved somewhat — for example, students who had gotten an F the first year typically got a D the second year — but very few of them mastered the material. More than 80 percent of the repeaters still scored below the 'proficient' threshold on the state algebra test."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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