A 4th year of high school math for CSU admissions? Just the idea triggers debate

CSU is considering requiring a fourth year of high school math of all freshmen applicants. While advocates for this change say that requiring four years of high school math will make more students ready to tackle mandatory college math courses and improve CSU’s graduation rates, critics fear the possible harmful impact on underprepared students in low-income and high schools already struggling to find enough math teachers.

The article cites preliminary research by PACE that indicates about 75 percent of California’s 12th-graders took a math class in 2016 and about 87 percent of the CSU applicants did in 2016. It is likely that nearly all of those seniors were taking their fourth consecutive year of math, said Michal Kurlaender, a UC Davis education policy professor who is PACE faculty director.

Kurlaender said there is strong evidence that more preparation across all four years of high school increases college success. Still, she said she worries “that certain students and certain students who attend certain schools will feel the policy more than others.” Even if high schools find enough extra teachers, some otherwise eligible students may be reluctant to take the courses and thereby shut themselves out of CSU, she said.

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