From the SFGate:
"...All California eighth-graders in public school will have to take Algebra 1 beginning in 2011 under a policy approved Wednesday by the state Board of Education in an 8-1 vote.
The board decided to make algebra testing mandatory in the eighth grade over the strong objections of Jack O'Connell, the state's elected schools chief."---and--
From: Carpe Diem and USA Today
"...Summertime means school for an increasing number of high school students who have struggled in their math courses....In March, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel reported that U.S. students lack a deep understanding of basic skills, including a grasp of whole numbers and fractions.
One reason for teacher frustration is that the state's math gurus have de-emphasized memorization in favor of "conceptual thinking." The same philosophy has crept into English classes, where "creativity" has been elevated over knowledge of grammar, and into history classes, where knowing historical trends — "the big picture" — has replaced knowing dates of important events."