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The people are hungry for algebra help!

Last week I got literally dozens of emails from readers who zeroed in on one of the seven most fascinating education ideas I ran across in San Diego schools: How Einstein Academy and its sister middle school changed the way they taught math to better prepare kids for algebra. And the emails are still flowing in.

Teachers and principals wanted to know: What textbooks did Einstein use to remake math? And what kind of curriculum is San Diego Unified using to try to amp up algebraic thinking in elementary school?

The huge outpouring of interest in how the Einstein schools altered elementary school math shows just how common this problem is. All over the country, people are trying to find ways to help kids who seem to flourish in math earlier on, then fall off a cliff when algebra rolls around — the problem that Einstein took on by trying to ensure kids understand math more deeply before they hit algebra.

So for the hungry, here are the answers. When it comes to curricula, Einstein uses Think Math! in elementary school and College Prep Math in middle school, while San Diego Unified is switching to enVisionMATH. A few folks wanted to reach math consultant Ivan Alba; his email is

I also heard from John Mueller, a retired teacher in Minnesota, who said it looks like schools are behind the curve in rethinking math class the way Einstein did. He pointed me to the Thinking Mathematics Project, a program run by a national teachers union and a university research center, as an example of a longstanding program that tries to ensure students understand the concepts behind math — not just how to get answers. That’s the same idea that Einstein built its programs on.

Have more thoughts on schools’ quest to conquer algebra? Please post them here on the blog.

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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