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I just talked to Ron Rode, who oversees research and evaluation in San Diego Unified. I asked him: What seems to be pushing up math scores, especially in eighth grade?

Rode said the gains could be due to putting more students in algebra readiness classes, which are meant to help students solidify their math skills before algebra. San Diego Unified also started using new textbooks and online lessons and gave more teachers training on algebra readiness.

And Rode noted that students in the same year showed impressive gains when they took the test four years ago — which suggests that they may have gotten help in elementary school that still adds up today.

“We need to look at this as not something that only happened at eighth grade,” Rode said.

— EMILY ALPERT

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