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October 29. 2012 7:03PM

Failing algebra: Manchester parents need answers

“We have a math problem.” Those were the words of Manchester Central High School Principal Ronald Mailhot, speaking to parents at a meeting last week. The problem? Nearly a third of Central’s freshmen last year (nearly 200 students) failed at least one semester of Algebra 1. City Hall Reporter Ted Siefer called the other high schools to find out what their figures are. At Memorial, the number was 28 percent. West High School officials did not respond.

Why are so many Manchester students failing algebra? Superintendent Thomas Brennan said there could be many reasons, including “issues in terms of coordination and integration at the transition points.” That means the school district might not be making sure that the different math curricula in elementary, middle and high schools build upon one another.

Parents and Brennan mentioned the elementary schools’ Everyday Math curriculum, adopted a few years ago, which teaches using very different methods than traditional math education. But many other school districts, inlcuding neighboring Bedford, also use Everyday Math. We doubt they have the same problem Manchester has.

It is disconcerting that the administration really has no idea what the problem is and is reaching for answers. In fact, we don’t know which is worse: that so many students fail basic algebra, that district officials don’t know why, or that it took a meeting with parents to get the problem addressed.


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