Doesn't Add Up--SBOE Drops Algebra II Graduation Requirement
by Jim Forsyth
Algebra Two, a nightmare for Texas high school students for decades, has been formally dropped as a graduation requirement by the State Board of
Education, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The SBOE is following up on a measure approved by the Legislature last year which calls for districts to be given more flexibility to move away from the 'everyone goes to college' mind state and provide more vocational and career courses.
It was part of the law which drastically cut the number of standardized tests that students have to take to graduate.
The new graduation rules take effect in September.
SBOE member Bill Ratliff says much of the drive away from Algebra Two stems from the inability of smaller, inner city, and rural districts to provide education in advanced mathematics.
"I pulled the course catalogs for three different school districts, and there is a huge difference in the courses they offer," Ratliff said. "There is a huge difference between a large school district and a small school district."
Texas is frequently a national trendsetter in education, due largely to the state's size. Ironically, Texas was the first state, more than twenty years ago, to require Algebra II to graduate. Now, other states are expected to follow Texas' lead.
Algebra II will still be required for students who want to achieve a 'STEM Certification' on their diploma, putting them on a fast track to take advanced engineering and science courses in college, and making them more attractive to technical universities.
The move away from Algebra II as a high school requirement has not been without controversy. Several business groups, including the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, have opposed the move.
"We support including Algebra II as a graduation requirement to ensure that all students have the best available options for college education and career opportunities upon graduation," said Ramiro Cavazos, the President of the Hispanic Chamber. "Algebra II is critical as it is a gateway course for college readiness and it is a key component in preparing students with critical thinking skills for post secondary workforce options."
The SBOE vote will drop the Algebra II requirement for students who choose not to seek career paths in STEM fields. The board also opted to drop the requirement for Algebra II and three other math courses for a STEM certification, opting to drop that to two additional math courses.
The Texas Association of Business is among the groups which are accusing the Legislature and the SBOE of 'dumbing down' the public school curriculum.