Collier County blew by Florida’s usual STEM leaders to establish itself as the state’s number one district for middle school Algebra 1, according to my analysis of the Algebra 1 end-of-course (EOC) exam results released yesterday by the Florida Department of Education.
Taking Algebra 1 in middle school puts a student on track to take a calculus course in high school – placing the student in the pipeline for engineering, physics and other STEM careers.
The present analysis calculates the number of 7th graders in a district who passed the Algebra 1 EOC as a percentage of the total number of 7th graders in the district, and does the same for 8th graders. The districts are then ranked according to the sum of the 7th grade and 8th grade percentages. The sum provides an estimate of the percentage of middle school students who pass the Algebra 1 EOC before moving on to high school.
Collier and the second-ranked district, Orange County, achieved their high standings in entirely different ways. Few Collier County 7th graders took and passed the Algebra 1 exam, but more than half the district’s 8th graders took and passed the exam.
In contrast, nearly one-quarter of Orange County’s 7th graders took and passed the Algebra 1 EOC. The district’s “Calculus Project”, which recruits rising 7th graders from disadvantaged backgrounds into Algebra 1 and provides a summer pre-algebra boot camp for these students, contributes to this success. (An Orlando Sentinel article on the Calculus Project is linked here) The Calculus Project is the state’s most important initiative for preparing students from disadvantaged backgrounds for STEM careers.