The Four-Year Plan
Alabama was the first state to require students to take four credits of math and four of science to graduate. Schools take very different approaches to meeting that mandate.
Robin Gray teaches algebra in a state that was an early leader in setting demanding requirements in high school math. She spends part of each day working with students who are struggling to keep up.
One of her classes is Algebra 1-A. The 9th grade course eases students into the subject slowly, presenting them with more basic material than they would receive in traditional Algebra 1. It’s an approach that Ms. Gray and fellow teachers at Jemison High School here say is essential for those teenagers to succeed in algebra before moving on to geometry and, ideally, more advanced math.
“We may have to slow down their pace, but they become great math students when they’re done,” Ms. Gray said during a break from class. “A lot of the time, it’s a maturity issue,” she said of her students. “They just need...
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