Classnotes Podcast (January 30, 2014) Following a trend over the last decade or so of pushing for higher math education among high school students, some areas are getting push back. With veiled arguments about students needing “choices” and not being “college material,” curriculum requirements are being weakened. Most visible is Texas where the State Board of Education has voted to remove Algebra II as a required course.

Math educator, Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., talks about why Algebra II is critical for all students and, particularly, for low-income and minority students who will undoubtedly suffer the consequences of being sidelined into watered-down, non-college prep courses. Paula is interviewed by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate.

Show length: 14:57

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Show Notes

  • Paula outlines the potential impact of the Texas State Board of Education decision on SAT and ACT performance, end-of-course exams in Texas schools, and student eligibility for the Texas Top Ten Percent Plan.

  • Paula shares her concern that removing the Algebra II requirement will have a major effect on minority and economically disadvantaged students, in particular: “We have a societal system that is limiting the amount of students that go to college by this one act. It will simply eliminate a large population of our students from even attempting to go to college.”

  • Paula explains why Algebra II is so important for learning higher-level math and providing a necessary foundation for math-related careers.

  • Paula argues that instead of introducing watered-down “applied math” classes, schools should focus on improving the overall instructional practices of the Algebra II course itself.

  • Beyond algebra, higher-level courses are also being de-emphasized in science and social studies, resulting in more students having to pay for developmental courses at community colleges and ultimately delaying their progress toward a degree. Aurelio and Paula discuss this trend.

  • Paula urges parents to always select the college-ready, distinguished diploma path when planning the academic program for their children as they head into high school.

  • Aurelio and Paula cite Pharr-San Juan-Alamo as a model school district for making the commitment to graduate all of its high school students with at least 3-6 college credits.