Here’s Sandra Alberti, Director of Math and Science Education at the NJ DOE. in NJ Spotlight:
We have this thing called Algebra I that exists in very different forms, even within the same school.
That’s her admirably candid response to the results of pilot tests of Algebra I and Biology, which demonstrates the gap in proficiency between poor and wealthy students. “On the biology test, just a quarter of the students in the poorest districts were proficient, compared with more than 80 percent in the wealthiest.” For Algebra I, “75 percent of students in the poorest districts were deemed “below basic,” while that number was 11 percent in the richest districts.”
In other words, 75% of NJ’s poor students failed both the biology test and the algebra test while only 20% of NJ’s wealthy students failed biology and 11% failed algebra. Odds are high, based on Alberti’s comment, that the vast majority of the poor students passed their coursework in spite of lack of proficiency.