Students take notes as teacher, Nick Johnson, writes unfamiliar words on the board in his Algebra 1 math class at Rudsdale Newcomer High School in Oakland, California.
High school students planning to apply to the University of California now have a broader set of courses they can take to meet the math requirement for admission to the public university system.
As more high schools across California have developed and adopted new college-prep math courses, math education and equity advocates have urged the state’s public universities to allow these courses to count toward admission requirements.
Under the new rules adopted in October, students in 11th and 12th grade can take data science, computer science, statistics and other approved quantitative reasoning courses to satisfy the required third year or recommended fourth year of math needed to be eligible for UC.
Both the UC and California State University require three years of high school math but recommend four as part of the A-G courses that students must take to be eligible for admission. Historically, that typically includes Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2, which often leads to Calculus.
But some students do not reach Algebra 2 or Calculus by their senior year, the courses aren’t offered, or they don’t want to take the courses because they don’t align with their academic pathway, creating barriers to college admission for students.
According to UC officials, the decision to accept a variety of quantitative reasoning courses for admission aims to provide more options outside of the traditional Calculus track, which isn’t required for most non-STEM pathways.
It will also expose students to other math topics that are increasingly available on college campuses and in-demand in the workforce.
“There have been ongoing efforts from high schools to design and implement an expanded range of college-prep math courses, so at its core, this is an opportunity to broaden the range of course options for students to enter UC,” said Eddie Comeaux, chairman of the UC Board of Admission and Relations with Schools, which approved the admission change.
Students must still complete three years of math, including a course in geometry or an integrated math course that covers enough geometry to be eligible for UC. Approved math and quantitative reasoning courses must also cover topics included in elementary algebra, two- and three-dimensional geometry and advanced algebra.
In recent years, courses such as Introduction to Data Science, a high school course developed by Los Angeles Unified and UCLA, have grown increasingly popular. First offered in Los Angeles Unified in the 2014-15 school year, it has since expanded to 17 California school districts plus other districts in Idaho, New Jersey and Oregon.
Phineas Banning High School in Los Angeles was among the first schools to implement the data science course, which was already accepted by UC to meet the required third or optional fourth year of math prior to the recent admissions change.
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