Algebra 2 is a pain point across the United States. It is also the source of a great deal of discussion and debate. At present, 20 states mandate that all High School students take the course. Texas, the first state to implement such a mandate, dropped it back in January after 8 years on the books.
Supporters of the Texas decision to remove the mandate cite the benefit of increased course flexibility that will allow students extra time to focus on vocational training. They further assert that most students will not use the subject in college or their careers. Opponents, including Texas’ higher education commissioner, emphasize that the decision will leave students, both those heading to college and those pursuing technical careers, ill-prepared. Opponents further emphasize that without higher level math courses students may likely test into remedial math courses when they get to college, courses that are expensive, time consuming, and non-credit bearing.
It should also be mentioned that many educators are concerned that requiring difficult courses such as Algebra 2 could discourage students enough to drop out of High School altogether. Algebra 2 requires students to apply knowledge they may not have mastered in earlier math courses, making the new content almost inaccessible.
Despite the obvious challenges facing students and teachers when it comes to Algebra 2, the benefits of successfully completing the course make solving these challenges imperative.
Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education, a policy group affiliated with the National School Boards Association, is quoted in a January 25, 2014 article in the Associated Press, as saying, “Algebra 2 is a really, really powerful predictive value on whether kids go to college, but it goes on and on after that: more likely to have a full time job, have a job with benefits, be healthier” (Weissert, 2014).
In Texas, for example, students who do not complete Algebra 2 are ineligible to gain automatic admission to a Texas Public University under the Texas Top 10 percent Rule (a rule that automatically admits the top 10% of graduates from each of Texas’ public high schools).
Will all students end up using Algebra in their careers? No.
Do all students deserve the multitude of options open to them as a result of mastery of the material? Yes.
At Knowre we work each day to determine how to support teachers and students in rigorous math teaching and learning. Knowre Algebra 2 curriculum is designed with in-question features that support students with all different math backgrounds. Learn more about our approach to Algebra learning today!