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MSU participates in $1M study to examine early algebra challenges

Michigan State University College of Education News

August 22, 2011

Schools across the nation are requiring all students to complete algebra by the end of ninth grade, which will potentially increase U.S. competitiveness and level the playing field for minorities and poor students. 

However, a team of educational researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Pennsylvania theorize that this phenomenon could have some negative consequences. The team will research and identify these problems during a $1 million three-year study grant provided by the National Science Foundation.

“It’s common knowledge that school districts are requiring students to take algebra as early as seventh grade, but we don’t fully understand the strategies they’re using or the issues they’re facing,” said Beth Herbel-Eisenmann, MSU associate professor of education and co-leader of the project.

Herbel-Eisenmann, with co-primary investigator Janine Remillard (Phd ’96), and team will survey approximately 1,000 school districts and conduct case studies of districts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Mexico. Specifically, they will focus on curriculum resources, teacher development, how learning is structured and how students are assessed.

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