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Opinion

Many students might consider math their favorite class. For some, math is a confusingly arranged set of numbers that students need to remember and practice relentlessly. It can be very difficult and labor intensive, and much of what is learned is quite unnecessary in many careers. Unfortunately, it is necessary to take math courses for four years in order to realistically be accepted into colleges at the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU).

Berkeley High School (BHS) has many final year math courses that are great options if a student is considering a career in a math or science related field, but for the rest of the student body, the courses are less appropriate.

The UC / CSU system is expected to lower the math requirement to two years. UC / CSU universities require three years of math for admission, but recommend four years, which effectively means applicants have to take four years of math to have a chance of admission.

While the BHS only requires two years of math, there is pressure to take four years even for students who do not plan to go to a four-year university, as the university requirements and the BHS requirements are sometimes used interchangeably. Math classes are only absolutely necessary in college if you are majoring in math or science. So, really, why require four years of high school math for everyone?

It could be argued that advanced math classes in the final year may be of interest to students who previously felt indifferent to the subject. The calculus taught in higher courses has much more realistic applications than the topics covered in previous courses and can open up many possibilities for students. Without a fourth year of math required, many students would drop out of the option. However, if instead of forcing students to take these courses, schools made them optional, let alone make them more attractive and accessible to students who would not normally take the course, many more students would benefit.

In reality, final year math courses are irrelevant to many students, and most students who take them struggle with success. On the National Assessment of Mathematics for Educational Progress (NAEP), just 26 percent of twelfth graders have achieved or above a proficiency level, with 36 percent of students below a proficiency level. based.

The scores of non-white students are even lower than those of Asian or Pacific Islander students who excel compared to other ethnicities. Black, Hispanic, and Native American college students have average proficiency rates of around 10 percent and core level scores below around a 55 percent majority. Math classes undeniably disproportionately harm non-white students and often make it more difficult for them to graduate. The high school graduation rate among non-white students is significantly lower than that of white students. While there are many other factors to this, such as higher poverty rates, math failure rates certainly contribute.

Looking at math proficiency rates, a marked racial disparity can be seen in success, with math hurting students of color. UC / CSU admissions do not have to require four years of math. For students who have no interest in a future in math or science, a fourth year just isn’t helpful. UC / CSU and BHS universities should not force students to take unnecessary math classes and give students more freedom to choose what they want to see in their schedule.

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