Texas Public Schools
3:37 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

New Board Of Education Curriculum Plan Makes Algebra II Optional

This week Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill laid out how the new math curriculum standards work for Texas high school students.

There are some that still take issue with the absence of Algebra II from the list of required high school courses, and are looking for ways to add it back in 2015.

The SBOE decided to split the list of math courses between three years of required critical thinking math courses. During a student’s senior year, they would be allowed to pick a specialized math elective.

"So my goal, and I think what the board’s goal was, [was] to ensure our students have at least three years of rigorous math courses," Cargill said. "And then their senior year if they choose to take robotics or digital electronics, then we think that’s fantastic."

Cargill said students will take algebra, geometry and then in the third year they have option of taking statistics or algebraic reason courses that are meant as an alternative to Algebra II, a sore spot among some higher education officials and business leaders.  

"We’ve never needed an option to Algebra II before because every student was required to take Algebra II," Cargill said. "But we’ve been proactive and even instructed the agency, even last year, to start working on these two alternative courses that students can take as options to Algebra II. But those two courses still ensure the critical thinking that we think is really important for a student moving forward.”

Mike Meroney, who testified for the Jobs for Texas Coalition, said unlike the business groups that see a problem with the new math curriculum, his group supports this plan.

“Algebra II is a great course," Meroney said. "Is it right for everyone? No. In fact one of the aspects of House Bill 5 that we advocated for was more experiential learning, more applied learning -- not just theory courses.”

Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes disagrees with the SBOE plan and said taking Algebra II is the best test for whether a student is college ready and meeting benchmarks in high school.