Texas gives final OK to dumping algebra II mandate

Tracy Popescu, Carter Buono

AUSTIN, Texas (AP/KXAN) — The Texas Board of Education has approved a new high school curriculum that drops algebra II as a graduation requirement for most students.

The academic overhaul grew out of a law passed overwhelmingly by the state Legislature last year. It also cut the number of standardized tests high schoolers must pass from 15 to five.

“Removing algebra II is a dumbing down of what we expect of our children and our students,” said Beth Thornton with Tutoring Austin. “I think it’s a good challenge. It prepares you for other challenges. With work, anything vocational and college bound, you need to be ready for a challenge.”

The board’s 14 to 1 vote Friday formally beings implementation of the new curriculum, which takes effect in September.

It is designed to create greater course flexibility for students who want to focus on career training.

Some policy experts claim Texas is watering down its graduation standards and say fewer students will take algebra II if not required to.

“If they don’t have the course, they’re not required to take it, they’re not prepared for entrance exams,” Thornton said. “If you’re applying to college against students who took algebra II, they may have gotten a B in it, but they took the class.”

But industry leaders say the law will better-prepare high school graduates for the modern workforce.

Students pursuing the STEM curriculum, for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math won’t be able to ditch the advanced math courses and will still be required to take algebra II and chemistry.

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