What You Need to Know About the New Math Placement Law

The California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015 requires school districts that serve pupils entering grade nine and that have not already done so to adopt “a fair, objective, and transparent mathematics placement policy” before the beginning of the 2016–17 school year. The mathematics placement policy must be adopted in a regularly scheduled public meeting.

This PTA supported law, SB 359 (Mitchell), addresses the math misplacement of students — especially students of color — as they enter high school. Correct math placement in ninth grade is crucial for educational success. Misplacement can result in pupils being less competitive for college admissions, including at the California State University and University of California.

Important Tip for PTA Leaders

elevatemathAt your next school board meeting:

  • Ask how your school district is implementing this new law
  • Share the sample school board policies and resources below
  • Help make sure the students in your local schools benefit from the California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015.

Resources for School Districts

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a sponsor of the bill, has put together resources to help school boards and communities implement the law and address the issue of math misplacement.

Digging Deeper

A letter from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators outlines the requirements of the new law:

“The mathematics placement policy for pupils entering grade nine must meet the following requirements:

  • Systematically takes multiple objective academic measures of pupil performance into consideration;
  • Includes at least one placement checkpoint within the first month of the school year to ensure accurate placement and to permit reevaluation of individual student progress;
  • Requires an annual examination of pupil placement data to ensure that students are not held back in a disproportionate manner on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background;
  • Requires a report on the results of the annual examination by the local educational agency to its governing board or body;
  • Offers clear and timely recourse for each pupil and his or her parent or legal guardian who questions the student’s placement; and
  • For non-unified school districts, addresses the consistency of placement policies between elementary and high school districts.”

The math placement policy must be posted on the district web site.