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I wrote last week about how Einstein Academy and its sister middle school boosted algebra scores by changing how math is taught earlier on.

Before it figured out what to do, though, the charter school noticed a familiar pattern: Its algebra scores on state tests were surprisingly low compared to its stellar scores in elementary school math. A similar pattern exists throughout San Diego Unified schools:

As our article pointed out, while 71 percent of San Diego Unified fourth graders meet state math goals, only 17 percent of its 11th graders do. The scores drop significantly near when algebra is taught.

One of the things I find so fascinating about what Einstein did, in light of this pattern, was that it didn’t jump to the easy conclusion that algebra was the problem. The numbers might make it look that way, but the school probed deeper to figure out the roots of the problem — the way math had been taught all along.

Still can’t get enough of algebra? You can catch me on KPBS’ These Days on Tuesday starting at 9:20 a.m., talking about Einstein and the algebra conundrum in general.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter:

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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