Tag Archives: Todd Truitt

San Francisco’s “Algebra for None” Policy and How Virginia Avoided a Similar Fate

by Todd Truitt 

On March 5, 84% of San Francisco voters  voted in favor of a referendum for San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to bring back Algebra for 8th graders, overturning their prior ill-fated math reform (a “no middle schooler let ahead” math policy). What does this vote have to do with Virginia?

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) had initially proposed a similar policy for Virginia as part of its Virginia Math Pathways Initiative (VMPI) in 2021. As noted below, VMPI cited Stanford Education Professor Jo Boaler and resources primarily using SFUSD’s misrepresented preliminary data as “empirical evidence” for VMPI’s similar initial proposal. 

San Francisco’s “Algebra for None” Policy and Its Immediate Effects

SFUSD revised its math program in 2014 based on the ideas of Boaler, requiring heterogeneous math classes and restricting Algebra until 9th grade. By 2018, Boaler and SFUSD were claiming success based upon SFUSD’s preliminary data (subsequently exposed as having been misrepresented).

At the same time, a flood of middle class and well-off families pursued workarounds, thereby creating opportunity gaps with less advantaged kids. As a result, the City of San Francisco (not SFUSD) began funding workarounds for less advantaged kids. Meanwhile, SFUSD’s math head used the tired trope that those who opposed the inequity of its “Algebra for None” policy were only affluent parents fighting for their own children to get ahead. Continue reading