mathematics BY JILL ROSENBLUM ⴞ Preparing for excellence in MATHEMATICS The Challenge Among the 13 southeastern states, 10 currently have an Algebra I graduation requirement, and the remaining two will have one in the 2011–2012 school year. This means that every student graduating from high school will need to succeed in algebra. All students must not only pass an Algebra I class, they must demonstrate proficiency on a statewide End-of-Course Assessment. Current pass rates on those exams range from as low as 61 percent to as high as 94 percent. This leaves thousands of students unprepared to graduate from high school, both without the grades/scores needed, and without the mathematics knowledge and skills deemed necessary for success in the 21st century. Policy Rationale “Algebra emphasizes relationships among quantities, ways of representing those relationships, and the analysis of change. Algebraic understanding builds on concepts of number and helps to understand concepts in geometry and data analysis. It is important mathematics, useful in post secondary education and on the job.” “Excellence in mathematics education requires equity — high expectations and strong support for all students.” (Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, NCTM, 2000) For many years, the National Council of Mathematics has promoted algebra for all students and their recommendations are reflected in state standards and accountability programs and in the work of Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The mandate is clear. Algebra is important and we must support all students in learning it. We must believe both that algebra is relevant and valu-