The math scores at Einstein Academy didn’t add up. Kids aced math in the younger grades at the South Park school, a respected charter with enviable test scores.
Yet when they hit algebra, their scores plummeted. Three years ago, just 9 percent of eighth graders in its sister middle school were proficient in algebra on state tests — even kids who seemed to be math whizzes before.
Instead of jumping on algebra and assuming that something was amiss in eighth grade, Einstein stepped back and examined its whole math curriculum from kindergarten up.
What it found was surprising. The problem started much earlier than eighth grade, back when kids were acing math. Einstein’s students were developing too many shortcuts and not enough understanding. While that had worked in the short term, it ultimately shortchanged kids.
To tackle the problem, Einstein revamped its whole approach to teaching math last year. Its algebra scores have already jumped, a case study for hundreds of other San Diego County schools struggling with the same problem.