The Silicon Valley Community Foundation came out with a report addressing closing the algebra achievement gap. They noted that performace is algebra appears dependent on race/ethnicity and the importance of algebra as the gateway to tertiary education.
Excerpt: “The study of Algebra I, in particular, is commonly recognized as a gatekeeper to the college-preparatory track. Students who take algebra by eighth or ninth grade are far more likely to take calculus in high school and pursue higher education than those who do not.2 Despite the many signs that point to the importance of algebra, an alarming number of students in the region do not successfully complete this course and achievement gaps by race/ethnicity are quite large. For example, in San Mateo County less than 20 percent of African-American and 26 percent of Latino eighth-grade students were proficient in Algebra I compared to 46 percent of white and 52 percent of Asian students in the 2006-2007 school year. In Santa Clara County, 21 percent of African-American and 20 percent of Latino students were proficient in Algebra I compared to 40 percent of white and 42 percent of Asian students in the same year.”