The Texas Tribune reports that Algebra II is no longer a hard requirement for the high school graduation in the State of Texas. The State Board of Education, after a rather controversial session, voted 14-1 (with all but one Democrat supporting the measure) to eliminate the moderately advanced math course from those required for graduation.
Fear over the elimination of Algebra II was a prevalent fear among many (including this blog) last spring, when the Legislature debated a significantly comprehensive education-reform bill. In June, when Governor Perry signed the bill, I explained that five different “tracks” would be created for high school graduation. These would each include a requirement for a fourth year of math, but the Legislature declined to note what level of match would specifically be required.
Accordingly, the State Board of Education stepped in to clear up the confusion. In many of the graduation tracks, the Algebra II requirement was dropped. Last I checked, when remedial options such as dropping Algebra II are invoked, one surrenders her or his ability to qualify for either the “Top 10%/8% rule” or the “CAP program” for admission into a Texas university. Additionally, students graduating with the remedial diplomas would do much worse in college admissions.
As I currently understand the law, students do not necessarily opt into the college preparatory graduation track. This means, especially for student for less involved families, many may find themselves in an inadvertently harder position to apply and be accepted to college.
While it is true many of these changes are ostensibly aimed at catering to those seeking more vocational –rather than collegiate– training, Algebra II is a somewhat basic skill that arguably should be required for even those not going onto college. I took the course in the 10th grade, and my brother did in the 9th grade.
On previous occasions I have instead suggested that the State focus on advancement, instead of simply quantity. Under the current system, four years of math are still required. As this was the case in my High School, I was forced to take Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry against my wishes, and I can say with an absolute certainty that the courses have not, nor will they, help me in any way whatsoever. Additionally, the transition between Algebraic math to Calculus also eliminates most applications of logic. While courses such as Algebra II help to build logic, Calculus simply uses the logic for increased and specialized application. This makes it pretty useless if you will not use the application (e.g., a typical “math” job).
The board was re-examine this issue tomorrow, as well as once again in January. What do YOU think about this development?