The Battle of the Algebra I Classes
By Sonya Fucci
Proofs? Foci? Locus? What’s that? I’m still at inequalities!
Many students, who went to middle schools that offered the Algebra I Regents, start their high school Mathematics careers by taking Geometry. However, there are freshmen who were not given that opportunity and must take Algebra I, even if they already took a similar course during their middle school years. This situation creates a disparity between freshmen in Algebra I and those in Geometry.
Although many students took Algebra and other Regents courses in the past, most middle schools do not offer courses as difficult as those required.
Mary Karroqe ’16, a student in Algebra I, said, “There’s a lot this year that I’ve learned that I didn’t cover last year, and there definitely would have been a gap for me when I got to Algebra II.”
Jesse Chen ’16, another student in Algebra I, said that although the Algebra I course is more challenging and more in-depth, retaking the course is unnecessary because some “have already learned it in middle school.”
Some believe that Algebra I helps students gain a better and more cohesive understanding of the subject.
Adina Redzic ’16 said, “I definitely understand it [Algebra] more this year than last year and I’m hoping that it prepares me for Algebra II.”
Algebra II/Trigonometry is a very difficult course, so it is important to have a strong foundation in Algebra I to be prepared for Algebra II.
Completing Algebra I in middle school, lacking confidence in the subject matter, or barely passing the course can cause problems in future classes, where expectations are higher. “If it [Algebra I] was inefficient, then maybe they can choose to take it again,” Chen commented.
In the high school curriculum, there is a yearlong gap between Algebra I and Algebra II. Students often forget the core topics of Algebra I during the year they take Geometry.
Eric Smith, a Math teacher, observed that some students have had a hard time in Algebra II and some have done well. “Some of them passing Algebra with a lower grade tend to struggle more in Algebra II at Tech,” he said.
Not all students came from middle schools specializing in math, so Algebra I should be more challenging than the subject matter they learned in the past.
“This is a specialized school,” said Edward Orna, an Algebra I and Geometry teacher, “so there is more expected of you.”
Karroqe added, “It’s ninth grade Algebra, not eighth grade, so it’s obviously supposed to be more challenging.”
The stress felt by many Algebra II students would likely decrease if Algebra I was taken freshman year by more students.
“I feel like it would be better to start off with Algebra even if takes an extra year,” said Geometry student Lexi Murman ’16. “Every teacher teaches differently so if we started off with the first step at ‘Tech level,’ then we will be used to it for years to come.”
Although students who take Algebra I in middle school are offered many of the same math classes throughout their four years, taking Algebra I in high school allows students to be better prepared for more advanced Math courses.