University System Weighs Gutting Math Standards After Students Keep Failing Algebra

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The Kansas Board of Regents is considering stripping specific university math requirements after it was found that a significant percentage of college freshmen fail algebra, NPR affiliate KCUR reported.

The Regents, who oversee the system’s six public universities, are considering implementing the Math Pathways approach which matches students to a math course based on their major instead of mandating algebra for all incoming students. While many universities require that all freshmen pass algebra as a prerequisite for graduation, one in three Kansas students reportedly fail the course, which could delay a student’s graduation.

Daniel Archer, vice president of academic affairs for the Kansas Board of Regents, said that algebra is not always necessary for many students. Only 20% of majors require higher-level math beyond algebra, KCUR reported.

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“We’re sending the majority of students down the college algebra road, which is really not necessary,” Archer said. “It’s not practical. It’s not really needed. And it’s not relevant for their fields.”

The Math Pathways approach offers students the option of taking alternatives to algebra such as statistics and quantitative reasoning, according to its 2018 brief. Its summary claims that algebra is a “gatekeeper to higher education for students not majoring in a math-heavy field.”

The program aims to “accelerat[e] students’ path through developmental math and enables them to take different paths through the math curriculum depending on their course of study.”

“You’re trying to base (course requirements) on the skills that are needed in that … professional career,” Archer continued. “If you’re going to major in political science, you’d be far better suited to take a stats class.”

A view of the University of Kansas campus. (Screenshot/Youtube/The University of Kansas)

Regent Wint Winter said that revising the math standards should be a top priority, reported KCUR.

“It’s incumbent on us to be aware of all the roadblocks that are out there for students … reasons why they’re leaving, reasons why they’re not graduating,” he said.

University of Kansas Chancellor Doug Girad, however, said that the university does “not have the bandwidth to do everything.” He stated that universities are already reworking educational frameworks and conducting a system-wide review of programs and degrees.

“We just keep layering on project after project, and these are not one-and-dones,” he claimed.

The University of Kansas, all Regents, Girad and Archer did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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