CSU Announces Major Change in Algebra Requirements

CSU Announces Major Change in Algebra Requirements

Shiane Daima Jacocks

Beginning Fall 2018, a new policy at the California State University system will allow entering students to satisfy general education math requirements with math courses other than algebra. 

This change in curriculum requirements will apply to both CSU freshman and those entering any of the state’s 23 community colleges. 

“We’re not eliminating the math requirements in the CSU,” said Christine Mallon, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Programs and Faculty Development at CSU. “We are removing the explicit intermediate algebra pre-requisite from CSU (general education) math.” 

According to the publication Ed Source, the change was inspired by a 2016 faculty report presented to CSU leaders that questioned the need for intermediate algebra as a requirement for all students. It noted that in the past 20 years, math courses that do not rely on intermediate algebra knowledge “have greatly expanded in enrollment and content.” In addition, “the curriculum tends to be less algebraically intensive, but in many respects significantly more conceptually challenging than intermediate or college algebra.” 

When the change becomes effective, it should allow students to satisfy the college math requirement with courses other than intermediate algebra and therefore give more students alternative opportunities to succeed in math. 

California’s community colleges will submit non-algebra math courses for CSU approval between winter and spring 2018. 

Certainly, many students must continue to meet the algebra requirement for their majors. However, there are many other students who seek careers where this level of math it is not required. 

Last month, California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said he would like to see intermediate algebra dropped as a requirement for earning an associate’s degree because it has become a barrier, especially for first generation students and students of color who are often placed into remedial classes. This policy is a major step in that direction.

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