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Frequently Asked Questions about Teaching and Learning Mathematics (cont.)
Q. Should all students study algebra?
A. Yes--algebra is the gateway to higher math. The study of algebra, however, need not begin with a formal course. The basic ideas of algebra can be learned by the end of middle school if they are taught in ways that draw on all strands of math proficiency.
Does improving students' math proficiency require new types of tests?
A. Yes. New tests are needed and old tests need to be changed. Most current tests address a fraction of math proficiency--computing and parts of understanding and applying. Tests must help teachers gauge how far students have come in all five proficiency strands, and must allow students to simultaneously build and exhibit their proficiency.