The Texas Tribune reports that the State Board of Education, following often contentious hearings and discussions on the subject, has given final approval to a new set of graduation requirements for High School students that removes the math class Algebra II. In fact, the 15-member board (which is comprised of 5 Democrats and 10 Republicans) passed the policy with all but one vote in favor.
However, as the San Antonio Express-News notes, the board also had previously introduced two alternatives to Algebra II that could be taken in lieu of that class for some sort of credit in advanced mathematics. Statistics and Algebraic Reasoning were the new courses selected to be tentative replacements. From what I recall, my high school offered both of those courses, but its enrollment was only open to those who had successfully completed Algebra II (I took Statistics my senior year, over the great objection of my school, following a hard year of Pre-Calculus the previous year). As I have been saying for nearly a year, and will continue to do so today, relaxing standards to receive a High School diploma is a terrible idea and and even worse solution for graduation deficiencies. Rather than admit we need to revamp our education system, the Legislature is moving the goalposts closer. But I digress.
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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.
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