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Algebra I Graduation Requirement

Guidance and resources for teaching algebra concepts to students with disabilities.

It is important to remember that Algebra I standards can and should be taught to all students, including students with disabilities. These students must be given access to the general education curriculum in order to equip them with the practical life skills they will need to be successful in the 21st century. They may not be able to complete the course in the standard length of time and may require more than one class to complete the course of study. In addition, they may need practical ways of demonstrating skills and competencies, such as through the use of manipulatives and with the assistance of calculators. They may also require supplemental instructional materials that address their learning needs. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure that ALL students be given an opportunity to access standards in the general education curriculum. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team should determine the type of instruction appropriate for each student.

In the past many students were assigned to a basic general or remedial-level mathematics class, thereby limiting their opportunity to complete Algebra I, a critical gateway course. To ensure that at-risk learners move ahead to complete an essential course such as Algebra I, teachers may need assistance in designing curriculum and instruction to meet the need of their students. For guidance in providing universal access to mathematics instruction, refer to the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (2005)

The Access Center for Improving Outcomes for All Students K-8 External link opens in new window or tab., a national technical assistance center funded by the U. S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), proposes that access to the general education curriculum occurs when students with disabilities are actively engaged in learning the content and skills that define the general education curriculum. This occurs when the following indicators are present:

California Education Code Section 51224.5 addresses the Algebra I requirement and the rigor involved. In addition, Education Code Section 51225.3 provides for "alternative means for pupils to complete the prescribed course of study." (See the references below.)

51224.5. (a) The adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, shall include algebra as part of the mathematics area of study pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 51220.
   (b) Commencing with the 2003-04 school year and each year thereafter, at least one course, or a combination of the two courses in mathematics required to be completed pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 51225.3 by pupils while in grades 9 to 12, inclusive, prior to receiving a diploma of graduation from high school, shall meet or exceed the rigor of the content standards for Algebra I, as adopted by the State Board of Education pursuant to Section 60605.
   (c) If at any time, in any of grades 7 to 12, inclusive, or in any combination of those grades, a pupil completes coursework that meets or exceeds the academic content standards for Algebra. Those courses shall apply towards satisfying the requirements of subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 51225.3.

51225.3. (a) Commencing with the 1988-89 school year, no pupil shall receive a diploma of graduation from high school who, while in grades 9 to 12, inclusive, has not completed all of the following:
   (1) At least the following numbers of courses in the subjects specified, each course having a duration of one year, unless otherwise specified.
     (A) Three courses in English.
     (B) Two courses in mathematics.
     (C) Two courses in science, including biological and physical sciences.
     (D) Three courses in social studies, including United States history and geography; world history, culture, and geography; a one-semester course in American government and civics, and a one-semester course in economics.
     (E) One course in visual or performing arts or foreign language. For the purposes of satisfying the requirement specified in this subparagraph, a course in American Sign Language shall be deemed a course in foreign language.
     (F) Two courses in physical education, unless the pupil has been exempted pursuant to the provisions of this code.
   (2) Other coursework as the governing board of the school district may by rule specify.
   (b) The governing board, with the active involvement of parents, administrators, teachers, and pupils, shall adopt alternative means for pupils to complete the prescribed course of study which may include practical demonstration of skills and competencies, supervised work experience or other outside school experience, career technical education classes offered in high schools, courses offered by regional occupational centers or programs, interdisciplinary study, independent study, and credit earned at a postsecondary institution. Requirements for graduation and specified alternative modes for completing the prescribed course of study shall be made available to pupils, parents, and the public.

Pursuant to Education Code Section 56101, a district, Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), county office, or public education agency may request the board to grant a waiver of the Algebra I requirement for individuals with exceptional needs. The district would submit a Specific Waiver to the State Board of Education. Each waiver will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Before submitting a request for a waiver, however, the district, county office or SELPA must ensure that all students/parents/guardians are informed that completion of a course in Algebra I prior to graduation is a requirement for earning a standard high school diploma. Students/parents/guardians must also understand that the consequences of not enrolling in an Algebra I course is the denial of a high school diploma. Information on the waiver process is available from the California Department of Education's (CDE) Waiver Office.

Below is an overview of the Algebra I standards that are assessed on state tests and identified as key.

Following are links to resources that may assist you in providing access to Algebra instruction for students in special education:

Note: The resources listed below are developed by entities other than the CDE. Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed do not necessarily state or reflect those of the CDE. Products or services provided are not promoted or endorsed by the CDE.

Overview of Algebra I Standards
Standard

Standards assessed on the California Standards Test (STAR)

Standards assessed on the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)

Key standards identified in Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools , California Department of Education, California State Board of Education

1

Yes

No 
 No

2

Yes

Yes

Yes

3

Yes

Yes

 No 

4

Yes

Yes

Yes

5

Yes

Yes

Yes

6

Yes

Yes

Yes

7

Yes

Yes

Yes

8

Yes

Yes

No 

9

Yes

Yes

Yes

10

Yes

Yes

Yes

11

Yes

No 

No 

12

Yes

No 

Yes

13

Yes

No 

Yes

14

Yes

No 

Yes

15

Yes

Yes

Yes

16

Yes

No  

No 

17

Yes

No  

No 

18

Yes

No  

No 

19

Yes

No 

Yes

20

Yes

No 

Yes

21

Yes

No 

Yes

22

Yes

No  

No 

23

Yes

No 

Yes

24

Yes

No  

No 

25

Yes

No  

No 

Questions: Special Education Division | specedinfoshare@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-4613 
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