Algebra: Not 'If' but 'When'

From NCTM President Linda Gojak in the December 3rd 2013 edition of Summing Up: "So, when should students take algebra? Many students and parents interpret taking algebra in the seventh or eighth grade as an indication of a level of superior intelligence—a status symbol. My experience, both as a student and as a teacher, leads me to believe that we do more harm than good by placing students in a formal algebra course before they are ready, and few students are truly ready to understand the important concepts of algebra before eighth grade. Many students should wait until ninth grade." I agree about the "algebra early as a status symbol" part, but I'm a little surprised this article takes for granted Algebra as a stand-alone course in either 8th or 9th grade. If anything, NCTM has nudged us towards more integrated courses, and I think the CCSSM gives us reasons to think about how different algebra content can be spread across multiple years, with some of what we usually call "Algebra 1" in 8th grade and some in 9th grade.