Southern California Program

Pasadena Educational Foundation

Pasadena, CA
December 2017

The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) serves an ethnically diverse student population, nearly two-thirds of whom are from low-income families.  Its new Math Academy will offer all the district’s mathematically talented middle and high school students a highly accelerated and challenging math curriculum in which they will advance much more rapidly than they would in traditional honors classes.  The goal is for students to complete the entirety of the standard high school math curriculum, including calculus, by the end of middle school (8th grade) and spend their high school years learning undergraduate-level pure and applied mathematics.  During the 2016-17 pilot phase involving 75 students, the 6th graders had mastered Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry and the 7th graders had learned what is typically covered in a first-year Calculus course.  Students demonstrated their newly mastered skills and knowledge in front of a public audience and panel of judges primarily from the fields of math, physics and astronomy at the inaugural SOLVE math competition, which will be held each year in the spring on the CalTech campus.  To ensure equitable access to the Math Academy, all 5th graders are being assessed and specialized preparatory programs will be provided to students whose scores are borderline or to those that attend the district’s most disadvantaged schools in northwest Pasadena.  A three-year W. M. Keck Foundation grant will support the independent evaluation of the Math Academy by WestEd and its expansion to five middle schools and one high school.  By the 2019-20 school year, PUSD anticipates serving 180 Math Academy students.

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