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Educators say many disadvantaged students are unprepared for high school algebra and struggle to reach grade level. In response, New York City is taking a new approach to closing the math achievement gap.

Chalkbeat reports that dozens of teachers attended a math “departmentalization” workshop Tuesday. They’re part of a pilot group of educators who will focus on teaching math to fifth-graders. So far, 75 elementary schools are participating.

Traditionally, elementary school students receive instruction in all subjects from one teacher. But under departmentalization, an instructor who specializes in math will teach that subject to the students.

Education officials plan to departmentalize fifth-grade math in all schools over the next five years, according to the United Federation of Teachers.

It’s part of the education department’s Algebra for All initiative to introduce algebra to all students by the eighth-grade by 2022. Currently, nearly 60 percent of the city’s middle schools offer algebra, the department reports.

There’s an underlying recognition that math disparity is a serious problem. Educators hope that departmentalization is part of the remedy.

According to Chalkbeat, New York City School Chancellor Carmen Fariña recalled parents insisting that she improve the math curriculum when she was an elementary school principal. Those involved parents wanted their children prepared for middle and high school-level math and science.

“If you look at your higher-achieving schools or parents who think their children should be higher-achieving, you’ll see that the coursework is different than in schools in other places,” Fariña told the teachers and principals at the three-day workshop, Chalkbeat reports.

According to the site, the chancellor wants disadvantaged students to have the same chance to excel as others.

SOURCE: Chalkbeat | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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