Common-Core Algebra: A Barrier to Graduation in New York?

By Liana Loewus — December 01, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Algebra 1 is a much tougher course under the Common Core State Standards than it was previously in most states, as I wrote in June. Students are being introduced to algebraic concepts earlier in middle school so that by the time they get to Algebra I, they’re expected to dive into more complicated coursework.

And in New York, the increased expectations could put more students in peril of not graduating.

The State Board of Regents recently released the 2014-15 scores for its algebra exam—a test students must pass in order to graduate. This was the first year 9th graders had to take the new common-core-aligned Regents exam, and many agree the new test was more difficult than the previous one.

The percentage of students who passed the test dropped precipitously: Just 63 percent of test-takers passed the common-core-aligned exam. That was down from 72 percent who passed the previous year’s “Integrated Algebra” test.

Chalkbeat New York reports that things were even worse in New York City, where just 52 percent of students passed the Regents Algebra 1 in 2015, down from 65 percent passing Integrated Algebra in 2014. The decreases were particularly steep among black and Hispanic students.

The results weren’t wholly unexpected: A report from the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School, which was published this summer, predicted students would have trouble passing the new Regents. It found that many students had struggled to pass the easier Integrated Algebra Regents. “For example, of the roughly 75,500 students who entered high school as the prospective Class of 2014, more than 22,000 flunked the Integrated Algebra Regents on their first attempt,” the report says. “Those who failed the first time went on to retake the exam an average of twice more in later years in order to graduate.”

A high school principal told the report’s authors, “The old algebra exam was at a 7th grade level. The new algebra exam is at a 10th grade level.”

The New York Times reports that the Board of Regents “had said they intended to set the grading so the same number of students passed as had before, but that did not happen.” Now the state is reconsidering the standard for passing, the paper says.

Common-core implementation has been fraught in New York. Many teachers denounced the speed with which they were expected to shift to the new standards, saying they lacked sufficient training and resources.

For more news and information on reading, math, and STEM instruction:

And sign up here to get alerts in your email inbox when stories are published on Curriculum Matters.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Science Opinion Four Good Science Teaching Strategies & How to Use Them
Three science educators share their "go-to" teaching strategies, including encouraging student talk & implementing project-based learning.
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Science Opinion The Three Most Effective Instructional Strategies for Science—According to Teachers
Three science educators share their favorite instructional strategies, including incorporating a sense of play in their classes.
9 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Science Make Science Education Better, More Equitable, Says National Panel
States must take steps to ensure that all students get a fair shot at learning science, says the National Academies of Science report.
3 min read
Illustration of father and child working on computer.
Science Q&A Many Schools Don't Teach About the Science of Vaccines. Here's Why They Should
Schools play an important role in confronting misinformation and mistrust in vaccines by helping students understand how they work.
7 min read
Ainslee Bolejack, freshman at Shawnee Heights High School in Tecumseh, Kansas, prepares to receive her first COVID-19 vaccine on May 17, 2021, at Topeka High. Unified School District 501 held a clinic at all their high schools welcoming students now 12-years-old and up to receive their vaccination.
Freshman Ainslee Bolejack prepares to receive her first COVID-19 vaccine on May 17, 2021, at Topeka High School in Kansas. Unified School District 501 held a clinic at all its high schools for students 12 and older to receive their vaccinations.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP