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STEM Executive Director
HQ Phone:  (415) 241-6000
Direct Phone: (415) ***-****
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555 Franklin Street 3Rd Floor
San Francisco, California,94102
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Crisis Response plan and professional development were created in 1991. Building upon existing information and material, Student, Family, and Community Support Department (SFCSD) established a crisis response t... more.
Why San Francisco stopped teaching algebra in middle school - Business Insider
"If you go back 15 or 20 years, a good many students weren't even allowed to take algebra," explains Jim Ryan, STEM executive director at the San Francisco Unified School District.
Jim Ryan from SFUSD acknowledges that the district took a "bold" step in its course sequence redesign. "As evidenced by the fact that I'm talking to you, there are people who it makes uncomfortable," he says. Still, Ryan bristles at the suggestion that the eighth graders of San Francisco are no longer learning algebra. Under the Common Core State Standard, he explains, there is a much stronger emphasis on developing a more intuitive understanding of math from an early age. "There is [now] a ton of what you would consider algebra in grade school and all the way through middle school," he says. According to Ryan, this helps students to understand the "why" and "what for" of pre-algebraic math. Likewise, the course called "Algebra I" that students will now take in their first year of high school introduces a number of the concepts we all associate with introductory algebra (quadratic equations, say), but also delves deeper into modeling with functions and quantitative analysis. Call it what you want, in other words, but this is not your grandmother's Algebra I. This may be cold comfort for anxious parents concerned about packing in Calculus before graduation. But Ryan insists that acceleration is still possible under the new system. The key difference is that numerically-inclined students aren't tracked ahead of their peers until high school. Last week, the district announced that it would allow freshmen to choose from an array of math courses ranging from Algebra to Geometry. Still, advanced eighth graders, prevented from skipping ahead in the course sequence, will be encouraged instead to delve deeper into the material. "If a student, for instance, has completed an assignment in a U.S. History course about the Revolutionary War and done the reading, the teacher doesn't say, 'Oh, you're done with that, we'll move you onto the War of 1812.' Instead, they give them additional reading and additional writing that will deepen their understanding of the Revolutionary War and that time period," says Ryan.
James Ryan, STEM Executive Director, San Francisco Unified School District
Our Team - SFUSD Mathematics
Jim Ryan, STEM Executive Director
Jim has worked in a variety of capacities to improve STEM education for all students. He was a high school mathematics teacher and site administrator for nine years. He worked as an analyst, programmer, and team lead for PowerSchool, a division of Apple Computers, and then served in several leadership roles at Key Curriculum Press, a leading publisher of mathematics tools and curricula. In his work at Key he managed the Professional Development and Marketing teams and led the creation of a new division focused on supporting the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Prior to his current role, he was the Project Manager for the CCSS-M Project at the San Francisco School Alliance.
Jim Ryan, Case Manager
406.563.7002 Ext. 3111 Jim began his employment with CCCS on January 16, 2002, working security for the WATCh program. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Systems from Montana Tech of the University of Montana in Butte, Montana.
In the News - SFUSD Mathematics
James Ryan from the Math Department presented a variety of pathways that family can choose from.
STEM Executive Director, Jim Ryan, is quoted in this article from EdSourde about testing and the Common Core: Now, students work in pairs or groups, arguing about what the right approach is to a problem, Ryan said. They have to explain their reasoning and justify it to one another. "It's a much noisier classroom," he said.