Intensified Algebra

Intensified Algebra (IA) is a partnership of UIC’s Learning Sciences Research Institute, the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas, and Agile Mind Inc., an education technology company. IA is a new intervention designed to target our country’s most at-risk high school students—those who enter high school significantly behind in mathematics but who face the more rigorous mathematics graduation requirements that are increasingly a part of our states’ policies. The program builds on two years of discussion and study among members of the Urban Mathematics Leadership Network (UMLN), an organization of mathematics leaders in 22 of the nation’s largest school districts.

Algebra I has the highest failure rate of any high school course in school districts nationally. The mathematics directors and superintendents in UMLN districts each identified the high failure rate in 9th-grade algebra classes as their top mathematics priority and encouraged development of a program to address this need. Most districts offer some version of a double-block algebra course, but most are conceived largely to provide extra instructional time for under-prepared students (tethering together disparate instructional materials for algebra instruction and remediation). Central to the design of IA is the understanding that students who struggle in mathematics need more than existing programs provide to be successful. Thus, in addition to a rigorous mathematics core, IA addresses the social, affective, linguistic, and strategic cognitive and metacognitive dimensions of learning mathematics.

Funding for development of Intensified Algebra has been provided by the National Science Foundation, the Searle Fund of the Chicago Community Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation. For more information on Intensified Algebra, contact James Lynn at jlynn@uic.edu.