Too hard: Texas drops algebra II as high school graduation requirement

Too hard: Texas drops algebra II as high school graduation requirementDaily Caller – by Eric Owens

The Texas Board of Education has given preliminary approval to a plan that will eliminate algebra II as a high school graduation requirement for more students.

The Texas state legislature gave unanimous approval to the change back in May as part of a huge overhaul of the state’s graduation and high-stakes standardized testing regime, reports The Dallas Morning News.  

Proponents of the elimination of the algebra II requirement and other academic requirements say the change provides more choices. Now, they say, more students can learn a trade or focus on practical career training if they want.

Opponents say the change weakens academic standards.

The Board of Education toyed with the idea of defying democratically-elected lawmakers and keeping the algebra II requirement. In the end, though, they decided that would be a bad idea.

There will be three opportunities for board members to change their votes between now and January.

If the changes remain intact, only students who pursue STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering and math) and “distinguished” diploma tracks will be required to take algebra II.

Other features of the new curriculum law include a reduction of mandatory standardized tests from 15 (the highest in the nation) to five.

As of today, 17 states, still including Texas, either make algebra II mandatory or put students in a default curriculum track that will include the course, notes the Morning News.

Other states have already dropped or lowered algebra requirements. In February, for example, California stopped requiring eighth-graders to take algebra—a move that is line with the Common Core standards now adopted by most states, but that may leave students unprepared for college. 

The state of Texas is one of just five states which have not adopted the Common Core curriculum.

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4 thoughts on “Too hard: Texas drops algebra II as high school graduation requirement

  1. As someone who taught Algebra 2in high school and of course homeschool, I say this is a bad idea, not just because it lowers educational standards at a time when the US is already far behind most developed countries, but mostly because (as with so much of Common Core–is Texas fixin’ to adopt this nightmare just when my daughter is going to complete getting elementary certified?) it lowers expectations especially in non-gifted type students and of course especially among blacks and hispanics and poor whites. I believe in raising, not lowering, expectations. With Algebra I, “minority majority” districts and big cities (I also taught in El Paso) had a good idea and split this course over two years, calling it “Paced Algebra”–no reason they couldn’t do this with Algebra 2 as well.

    BTW, I am not disparaging minorities here. But when I taught in El Paso many of my students were in gangs or wannabes…

    Or could it be they are doing this because there is a critical shortage of HS math teachers? Or have colleges lowered the standards for being a math teachers so much that some math teachers cannot teach Algebra 2?

    1. I also think it’s a bad idea, DL. From what I’ve read, they are moving the focus to “career and vocational training” with some groups arguing that “plenty of high-paying jobs are available in Texas without a college degree or high-level math.” They are definitely lowering expectations. I read several stories with mind boggling quotes that I wish I could have sent in. Unfortunately, they had copyrights.

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