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Algebra skills for middle-schoolers focus of new initiative
Logo for AdvanceKY Access to Algebra

Algebra initiative for middle schools aims to improve STEM foundations

Middle-schoolers can better prepare for high school algebra and earn a little cash for improving their skills through the AdvanceKY Access to Algebra initiative.

NCS was recently approved for the program that will also provide middle school teachers with specialized training and curriculum for teaching algebra to middle-schoolers.

Starting this month, all middle school students will take the PSAT 8/9 test, a precursor for the SAT that measures students’ college readiness. Their scores this year will be used as a basis for measuring their progress and they will take the test every year. Starting next year, eighth-graders who either score the national benchmark of 430 or improve their score by 70 points can earn $50 through AdvanceKY.

“We know that early exposure to mathematical concepts like algebra in middle school can add to a student’s academic success throughout their high school years,” said Courtney Newton, director of Next Gen Learning 6-12.

“This program gives the students a small incentive, but it also provides our teachers with valuable training and curriculum to improve classroom instruction.”

Old Kentucky Home Middle and Bloomfield Middle schools offer algebra classes, and NCS is exploring how to make advanced math courses available to New Haven and Boston next year.

“Our current middle schools have about one ‘classroom’ of students engaged in this level of mathematics. AdvanceKY Access to Algebra is designed to not only expand those opportunities but build foundational skills to address any gaps in existing math/critical thinking skills of students,” Newton said.

A teacher points at a paper on a desk while a student watches

Thomas Nelson High School math teacher Crystal Blanton works on an algebra project with a student. NCS was recently accepted into a program to bolster middle-schoolers' algebra skills to better prepare for them for the high school level. PHOTO by JILLIAN MINTER | TNHS Class of 2023


The AdvanceKY initiative includes training, curriculum, equipment and collaboration components. It includes meetings involving 6-8 teachers and assistance for incorporating more rigorous lessons into the existing curriculum, and it promotes discussion among teachers for better aligning the curriculum. More details about the program are available on its website.

When middle-schoolers take Algebra I in eighth grade, that effectively “frees up” a slot for advanced or dual-credit math in their later years. 

“The hope of this program is we have an increasing number of students each year ready and excited to engage in higher-level mathematics,” Newton said. “This helps to support the growing need for STEM careers in our region with advanced manufacturing, engineering, aerospace, medical and others.”

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