San Francisco Math Policies Challenged in Court

A San Francisco parent advocacy group has filed a legal challenge against controversial changes to SFUSD’s math placement policy, which took effect during the 2014-2015 academic year.

In 2014, the school district opted to delay Algebra 1 from the 8th to 9th grade and end the offering of accelerated math courses in middle and high school. The purpose was to close the achievement gap by decreasing the number of Black, Latino and low-income students who fail out of Algebra 1.

Research out of Stanford University, released the same day as the parents’ legal filing, shows the policy had a series of negative ramifications. 

“The study found that there were dramatic delays in algebra 1 and geometry admission,” the San Francisco Examiner reports. “The report found that immediately after the reform, student participation in Advanced Placement math fell 15% in San Francisco public schools.”  

Moreover, Black and Hispanic representation in advanced courses did not improve, which was one of the key goals of the policy change.

In response, SFUSD said district leaders are using the new findings “to help understand the impact of the 2014 Math Course Sequence Policy.”

“We are in the process of collecting evidence to inform needed improvements in mathematics programming,” Superintendent Matt Wayne said in a statement. “This research from Stanford helps us know how our math programming is influencing the courses taken by San Francisco students.”

The SFUSD math policy is based on the same pedagogy that influenced California’s new controversial math framework. Adoption of the new state standards have been pushed back by the California Department of Education amid an outcry. 

Undoubtedly, the CDE and local districts will be watching this lawsuit.