Students, parents contend SFUSD’s math program doesn’t add up


Naomi Lin '24

The statewide Math Placement Act addresses how students are placed in specific math courses to help them succeed.

Miranda Hernandez '24, Staff Reporter













On Feb. 6, Judge Carrie Zepeda said that Palo Alto is in violation of the Math Placement Act. According to the writ mandate, “Math placement policy must give parents and students a process for appealing their placements, and the district has to collect data on how the policy is working.”

Every parent’s dream is for their children to succeed and to have the opportunity to excel in their academics. According to the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Unified School District presents placement tests that limit student advancement, especially those who are socio-economically disadvantaged students.

Math instructor Ray Trounday said, “I don’t agree with the premise that placement tests limit students from reaching their math goals. On the contrary, placement tests provide valuable insight into the student’s math skills.”

He added, “There are a number of paths that students may take to reach their math goals and placement tests offer teachers and administration data points to support their growth and ultimately their Math goals.”

On March 21, according to the San Francisco Examiner, “San Francisco Unified School District’s controversial math placement and sequencing is now being challenged in court.”

The report continued, “Families for San Francisco, a parent advocacy group, released a lengthy report asking for a full, peer-reviewed assessment of the policy’s successes after submitting numerous public records requests.”

At the crux of the issue is the district’s move to delay Algebra 1 in eighth grade and discontinue accelerated math class options in middle and high schools, which “are widening the equity achievement gap rather than narrowing it.”

Conversely, school officials claimed there was “increased enrollment in higher-level math courses and higher math proficiency throughout the district.”

San Francisco’s math proficiency in public schools was at its lowest last year, decreasing from 51 percent to 46 percent this past year.

Students are moving forward without knowing the basic concepts of math and are forced to take classes to reach the level they are supposed to.

“The thing with math is it’s like a layered cake, you need the foundational layer. If some of those foundational layers are not solid then it doesn’t matter how good the teacher is for the next level. We’re always trying to address getting those foundational courses really solid.

— Karina Mathisen, Math Department Chair

This issue leads to parent concerns on where to send their children but every school has the potential to have a good curriculum to set their students up for success.

Rebecca Takabayashi ’24, a student from Leadership stated, “I think where you go to school affects the education you’re getting but it matters more what you do with your classes.”

She added, “As long as you are putting a good amount of effort into your classes, I think everyone is at relatively the same point in terms of curriculum.”