Algebraic Thinking Should Be Taught Early, Often

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

Some thoughts in response to "Researchers Suggest Early Algebra Harmful to Struggling Students" (April 25, 2012): In our extensive work with algebra-readiness programs across the country, we believe that preparing students for success in algebra is more important than pushing students to take the Algebra 1 course as early as possible.

The key to success in algebra, whether in 8th grade or 9th grade, is in fostering algebraic ways of thinking alongside content coverage and skills development. Rather than push for all students to take a formal algebra course at any particular grade level—which will undoubtedly leave some students behind—we should focus on improving students' algebraic instruction and understanding at all levels. Algebraic thinking and reasoning should be developed across the grades, even in the elementary grades, and doing so can support the critical transition from arithmetic to algebra.

Taking an algebra course no doubt opens up opportunities to succeed in further science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—all the STEM fields. Most important, however, is making sure students have many opportunities to develop their mathematical reasoning, thereby supporting them to succeed across the spectrum of high school mathematics.

For all students, we should ensure that there are opportunities to succeed in algebra. For those 8th graders who are prepared and ready to take Algebra 1, we should do what we can to make the course available.

June Mark and Bryan Wunar
Senior Project Directors
Education Development Center
Waltham, Mass.

Vol. 31, Issue 31, Page 27

Published in Print: May 16, 2012, as Algebraic Thinking Should Be Taught Early, Often
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >