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Requiring Algebra II In High School Gains Momentum

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the who-got-their-alphabet-in-my-math dept.

Education 490

ChadHurley writes with this quote from the Washington Post: "Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success, according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates. In recent years, 20 states and the District have moved to raise graduation requirements to include Algebra II, and its complexities are being demanded of more and more students. The effort has been led by Achieve, a group organized by governors and business leaders and funded by corporations and their foundations, to improve the skills of the workforce. Although US economic strength has been attributed in part to high levels of education, the workforce is lagging in the percentage of younger workers with college degrees, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development."

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What about CmdrTaco's baby penis? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35709930)

Why don't they also require that people with micropenises get sterilized? Start with CmdrTaco and retroactively abort his child.

ok as long we don't have to retake at college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35709932)

ok as long we don't have to retake at college at high prices

Just algebra? (3, Insightful)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710176)

Personally I think Calculus 1 should be required as well, I mean are limits that hard?

Re:Just algebra? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710242)

The issue is time, assuming that a student starts Algebra I their freshman year, they'd have to get through Algebra I, II and III before getting to precalc and finally calculus. Meaning that they'd be taking a math course pretty much every semester, assuming they pass in the first place, and if they don't, then there's precious little time to catch up.

Additionally, when I was in high school there were 20 credits or so to graduate around here, Giving 5 of them over to math isn't going to just happen without crowding something else out.

Re:Just algebra? (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710454)

What the hell is the difference between algebra and "precalculus"?

No requirement will suffice... (3, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710258)

if all the schools do is rubber stamp the grades. Having worked as a tutor in college math lab when I was a piss poor student, there were people seeking help in the lab that can't handle basic fraction arithmetic.

let them eat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35709944)

pi!

oh wait

Re:let them eat (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710198)

pi! oh wait

Is this your first time on the internet in a month?

We switched to Tau, While not as tasty, It's more likely to get you girls.

Re:let them eat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710472)

Women love a man who eats pi.

Require a class on abstract logic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35709946)

We need that far more than algebra II, even though we also need required math that goes beyond it (coupled with an education system with the capacity to teach it properly, unlike ours)

Re:Require a class on abstract logic! (3, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710314)

Many schools offer a course on geometry via mathematical proof.That covers a lot of abstract logic theory.

Correlation is not Causation (1, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709948)

And algebra II isn't already required? 0_o

Perhaps my kids will get a better schooling at Khan Academy afterall.

Re:Correlation is not Causation (1)

ashidosan (1790808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709982)

This ^. My kids already are enjoying Khan Academy.

Also, it took quite a few seconds before I remembered that Algebra II was optional at my high school (back in '94), though I partook.

Re:Correlation is not Causation (2)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710182)

Algebra, Algebra II, Geometry and Calculus were available at my school.

I remember not doing so hot in geometry, but the teacher was also evil incarnate.

Re:Correlation is not Causation (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710470)

This ^. My kids already are enjoying Khan Academy.

Also, it took quite a few seconds before I remembered that Algebra II was optional at my high school (back in '94), though I partook.

I have to wonder if that's the real predictor: the willingness to take Algebra II, rather than the act of taking it itself. And perhaps the willingness to take it is based at least in part on aptitude in math in particular or academics in general.

Re:Correlation is not Causation (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710264)

It depends where you're at. But I was surprised that it wasn't required, IIRC we were required to have Algebra III, but that might be because we were using integrated math which used a spiral approach, meaning that you'd have to have 3 semesters just to see everything that would be in Alegebra I.

Re:Correlation is not Causation (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710296)

This was my thought. How was it not already required? I took it in 9th grade along with geometry. 10th was Pre-Calc & Trig. 11th was AP Calculus (one of 2 Juniors in the class) and senior year I drove to a community college for Statistics & Calculus II.

Although what we REALLY need a class on is "common sense" how to deal with money. Interest, balancing a 'checkbook'/banking account. Hell I'd settle for 'this is how you count back money.'

Re:Correlation is not Causation (3, Interesting)

tangelogee (1486597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710462)

Although what we REALLY need a class on is "common sense" how to deal with money. Interest, balancing a 'checkbook'/banking account. Hell I'd settle for 'this is how you count back money.'

That's what Home Economics used to be...

Re:Correlation is not Causation (1)

cranil (1983560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710404)

Heh... I wish Khan Academy was around when I was in school. maybe I would have learnt biology better. I absolutely hated it. I've decided to watch all the Khan Academy videos on Biology during my term-break :)

Correlation is not causation (5, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709952)

Come on, people! We should all know this already. Just because "Algebra II" is a predictor of success, doesn't mean that it causes the success. It is much more likely that the smarter students who are (or at least were, before the depression) more likely to succeed are also more likely to take Algebra II. Making everyone take it is going to have about as much success as cargo cults did.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710032)

No kidding. Just because education is a predictor of success does not mean that we should educate our kids. Some kids are guaranteed to succeed without education whatsoever.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710208)

George W. Bush, for example.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710380)

Yeah, Benjamin Franklin, for example.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710078)

Is this catchphrase a restatement of the "Necessary vs Sufficient" principles? So Algebra might be Necessary (on a percentage scale) but it is not Sufficient. Also the percentage scale means you can succeed without it if a more difficult spread of counterbalancing factors shows up.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710142)

No, the GP is trying to sound very insightful by repeating the "correlation is not causation" line without even understanding the argument being made. He's trying to karma whore mostly.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710414)

Provide a good argument why taking Algebra II suddenly makes you win at life, and I'll listen to you. Otherwise shut up.

Re:Correlation is not causation (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710084)

Come on, people! We should all know this already. Just because "Algebra II" is a predictor of success, doesn't mean that it causes the success. It is much more likely that the smarter students who are (or at least were, before the depression) more likely to succeed are also more likely to take Algebra II. Making everyone take it is going to have about as much success as cargo cults did.

Require Algebra II - teachers will teach to the exam. Alas, this is what is happening. We don't want you to be able to think for yourself, just memorize a lot of stuff and hope it will get you through. Never mind once you understand concepts of Algebra it's really easy stuff.

Beware the candidate who says "I'm an Education Candidate, I want to revolutionize educations!" What they really mean is I'm going to pretend and just throw another mandated test at the schools.

Above All Else (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710276)

Teach it in context of its potential applications. Without this, it's no different than diagraming sentences all day.

Sure, you'll know all about sentence structure, but you won't be able to write worth a damn.

Re:Above All Else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710376)

I'm seriously interested in this idea. It's not that I don't agree with it but I'd wonder what application we could teach your average 16-17 year old in the usage of the quadratic equation?

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710086)

If more people realized that "correlation is not causation" the world would be a much better place, with a lot less BS

Thanks

Funny is that according to the Article, Algebra II is really one of (IMHO) useless parts of the curriculum (yes, I had it in High School)

ended up using some of it in Engineering School after all

Re:Correlation is not causation (1, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710234)

Funny is that according to the Article, Algebra II is really one of (IMHO) useless parts of the curriculum (yes, I had it in High School)

ended up using some of it in Engineering School after all

Remind me to stay far, far away from anything you engineer.

Re:Correlation is not causation (-1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710106)

Yay! Another uninsightful "correlation is not causation" post that spews that phrase out when no one in the article or in the research was making the claim they were attempting to debunk.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710200)

Looks like he needs more Algebra II then...

Re:Correlation is not causation (2)

Jahava (946858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710216)

Yay! Another uninsightful "correlation is not causation" post that spews that phrase out when no one in the article or in the research was making the claim they were attempting to debunk.

From TFA:

Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success, according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates.

... and ...

The study showed that of those who held top-tier jobs, 84 percent had taken Algebra II or a higher class as their last high school math course. Only 50 percent of employees in the bottom tier had taken Algebra II. “Algebra II does increase the likelihood of being employed in a good job,” they reported, although warning that many factors come into play.

Yes, the article makes exactly the claim the OP says it does, and yes, the OP's point is well-made. It's like saying "most of the world's geniuses could read novels by the age of 4, so parents should focus on teaching their kids to read novels by the age of 4 if they want them to be geniuses." It's an absurdly stupid claim.

Let me guess... you didn't take Algebra II in high school? :P

That said, I'm in full support of requiring Algebra II in high school. I think continuously pushing students is a great learning technique, and I also think the world would be a better place if everyone had an understanding of these principles.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710402)

I'm in full support of requiring Algebra II in high school. I think continuously pushing students is a great learning technique, and I also think the world would be a better place if everyone had an understanding of these principles.

Agreed. I didn't even realize it wasn't required to begin with -- I though Algebra III and/or Pre-Calc were the optional bits.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710426)

You glossed nicely over this quote from TFA:

And whether learning Algebra II causes students to fare better in life, or whether it is merely correlated with them doing better — because smart, motivated kids take Algebra II — isn’t clear.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

IceNinjaNine (2026774) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710108)

Just because "Algebra II" is a predictor of success, doesn't mean that it causes the success

Exactly. Also, since it will be "required", just how much will they water it down to ensure that the masses are able to make the grade?

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710166)

Sorry, I was only required to take algebra, not statistics.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Geldon (444090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710210)

In related news, high school GPA has been shown to be a predictor of college success. Therefore, high school students will all be assigned a GPA of 4.0.

I imagine the success shown by students taking algebra 2 in schools that don't require it is reflected by students taking any elective mathematics courses as part of any curriculum.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Informative)

DivemasterJoe (932367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710344)

From TFA:
Among the skeptics is Carnevale, one of the researchers who reported the link between Algebra II and good jobs. He warns against thinking of Algebra II as a cause of students getting good jobs merely because it is correlated with success. “The causal relationship is very, very weak,” he said. “Most people don’t use Algebra II in college, let alone in real life. The state governments need to be careful with this.”

We can salvage this research! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710390)

Obviously it's stupid to fix our high school curriculum.

But this research has pointed to a clear curriculum fix we *can* make:

We need to require competency in elementary logic and statistics for anyone involved in producing high school curricula.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710466)

True, correlation is not *necessarily* causation. But you cannot show causation without correlation.

It is equally possible that Algebra II teaches the necessary math tools and problem solving skills to be successful, or that those likely to be successful will take algebra II. Well, actually, I would be inclined to guess the former. I don't know specifically what Algebra II teaches in the US, but in canada to do well at any of the sciences and a large chunk of math/econ knowing how to do algebra makes a huge difference.

I should probably expand on how Algebra II *could* cause people to be successful. By itself a single course seems unlikely, but there's no harm in throwing out a theory. Again though, I reiterate, having not been through the US system I am not in detail familiar with Algebra I vs II vs anything else taught. Algebra II from what I can understand, in 3 minutes of research (note that searches for 'algebra II' from canada tend to produce canadian oriented results which isn't all that helpful) teaches you how to factor polynomials, deal with complex numbers, and the basics of numerical methods. These topics introduce students to a number of important concepts, first, at least that I can see, is that relationships aren't always linear, and just because they aren't linear doesn't mean they can't be quantified. Secondly it gives tools to examine how non-linear relations can relate to each other (one set of polynomials as an inverse of another set), and lastly an introduction to numerical methods is pretty handy when you deal with anything involving numbers. If Algebra II can be taught in such a way as to impart an understanding of problems that reflects a non trivial analysis, and can teach students some useful math tools it can be a driver of success. And it's of course also possible that Algebra II happens to sit just on a particular cusp of usefulness at this moment in time, and 40 years ago it wouldn't have had the same correlation effect and 40 years from now it won't either. Part of what might make it valuable is the relative number of people who can do it.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35709956)

Correlation != Causation. Perhaps those intrinsically more likely to succeed in college and the workplace happen to be the same kinds of people who *wanted* to take Algebra II. This does not mean forcing Algebra II on anyone else will help them succeed.

That's nice (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709968)

Who's going to pay for it? Every state is cutting funding and increasing class sizes. You don't just learn this stuff on your own, and how the heck is a teacher with 45 students (2 or 3 special needs and a few ESL ones mixed in) going to pull that off?

Of course, if your goal is to give public schools impossible goals so they can fail and be replaced by private schools, this is a great idea. It'll mix well with no child left behind. And the great thing about private schools is they get to expel their problem students, so they're numbers always look great!

Re:That's nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710094)

I disagree that you don't learn this stuff on your own. All you need is someone to keep order in the class and to point the students at the Khan academy and you are basically done. If that doesn't work the kid is probably a special needs kid anyway.

Problem students should be expelled. The only issue with private schools is the cost.

Re:That's nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710168)

No kidding. American kids have better things to do than try to succeed. Besides, math is hard. See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbie.

Require? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709976)

I guess I'm surprised it's not simply offered.
Last I recall the math sequence 'way back in my day' was Algebra 1 - Geometry - Algebra 2 - Trig.

So even if Trig fell off the map Algebra 2 would be senior year.

Re:Require? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710028)

At my school, Algebra 2 and Trig were one semester each. If you took them both Junior year, you could take Calculus your senior year.

Re:Require? (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710196)

The normal course of Math classes for student at my high school was Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Functions & Trig.

Those of us in the advanced math group took Algebra 1 in 8th grade. Then high school was Algebra 2, Geometry, Functions & Trig, Calculus.

It would have been so much better to have Geometry before Algebra 2. I spent Geometry class doing work for other classes and reading novels because it was so easy after Algebra 2. It would have been better to just skip Geometry at that point and go straight to Functions & Trig. Then spend 2 years working on Calculus.

Re:Require? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710422)

What is "Algebra I" and "Algebra II" You can call it anything you want. I'd me more interested in knowing what standards/concepts were being taught. In my school it went Algebra I, Algebra II, GTA (Geometry, Trigonometry, Algebra III) or Geometry as a stand alone, Pre-Calc, and if you were advanced, Calc I at the Community College. Algebra I and II were required.

It's Not That Hard, Guys (1)

Conrthomas (1993390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709980)

I'm a senior in first-year Calculus, and let me say that this is a great idea. Calculus is in fact, mostly algebra, as I have seen. As long as it's not what's called "CPM Algebra" which I had to deal with in 10th grade. So, as long as it's a good curriculum, YES.

This is a must (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709990)

For slashdotters, the amount of algebra we use knowingly and unknowingly is much higher than one thinks in our daily lives. The amount of folks that use it wrong to come at their conclusions while chatting with them is even higher. I really hope they do require this.

I for one would welcome our new Algebraic Overlords.

Personal info disclosure here (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710000)

Um, I took Algebra II in high school, and it was required.

In 1971.

When did the nimrods decide to ditch that? And in favor of what other requirements?

Actually, I'm afraid the answer will annoy me to no end.

Re:Personal info disclosure here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710060)

If it helps, modern Algebra II focuses less on solving polynomial equations and somewhat more on multiculturalism and superficial attempts at inclusiveness. Nobody's teaching actual math anymore, it might make the kids who have trouble with it feel stupid.

Re:Personal info disclosure here (2)

gander666 (723553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710272)

I will second this. When did Algebra II fall off the curriculum? It was not optional in my highschool. Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II were minimum requirements. Those interested in sciences and college took pre-calculus and Trigonometry as their fourth year (unless they qualified for the AP calculus)

I am shaking my head.

We might be better off.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710006)

If everyone knows more algebra, we might be better off as a society. But there is still only so much room at the tail of the 'success' distribution.

It would be nice if the summary... (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710016)

...told me what exactly Algebra II is. Whatever it is, we don't call it that where I live.

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710096)

im guessing its an American thing .. like Web 2.0

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (1)

xs650 (741277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710098)

It is normally the 2nd year of Algebra in American High Schools.

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710180)

Not particularly useful. What does Algebra II cover? If our math courses usually went up to Trig, did our Algebra course likely cover most of this 'algebra II'? Some of our kids had calculus by the time they left (the ones smarter than me), what about them?

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710396)

It is normally the 2nd year of Algebra in American High Schools.

No kidding... You sure its not the third year? How bout "What topics do they cover?"

I'm guessing what we called Algebra in the 80s got dumbed down and perhaps they no longer cover the quadratic equation, etc, in "algebra" anymore. So, Algebra II would pretty much be the second semester of what we used to call Algebra.

If its not that, then I'm not sure what Algebra II could be. We were offered four classes, to be taken in strict order, Geometry, Algebra, Pre-calculus (I guess the word "trigonometry" doesn't fit in a CHAR(16) column or something stupid like that), Calculus. We also had remedial general math class for the folks whom never learned fractions, or in some cases couldn't add. Kids had to pass 2 years of math to graduate H.S. The "standard track" kids therefore took geometry and algebra, I continued on into trig and calc with the college track kids.

I wish they offered some more useful classes. Statistics or discrete math would have been a heck of a lot more useful to the average citizen.

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710224)

If I remember correctly it was algebra for things more complicated than linear equations, powers, roots, etc.

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710456)

If I remember correctly it was algebra for things more complicated than linear equations, powers, roots, etc.

You mean things like trigonometric identities? Basically a renamed trigonometry class, then.

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710252)

Well we used to teach just Algebra, but then we improved it and now it is web scale so we call it Algebra II. (???)

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (2)

stealth_finger (1809752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710348)

...told me what exactly Algebra II is.

IT'S AWESOME, didn't you see it? Wellm you remember at the end of the first one where Trigonometry had a gun to Calculus's head and Differentiation was fighting the zombie and vampire hoards. Well the Theory gang arrive just in the nick of time, destroy Probability and Statistics to put an end to the the Dynamic Systems and save the day. The 3D is EPIC

Re:It would be nice if the summary... (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710358)

Solving equations, graphing, factoring polynomials, reducing polynomials, square roots, cube roots, n-th roots.
Imaginary numbers, complex numbers, quadratic equation.

Matrix math.

ALL these should be required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710062)

Calculus is the foundation of SO many different things. Almost every discipline from medicine to engineering to economics requires a foundation in calculus to understand. Not only that but very many things about how the world works even outside career paths can only be understood with calculus.

Basic calculus, basic physics, basic chemistry, basic biology. Why are not ALL of these things required of any high school graduate? Without an educated population making good decisions, the entire nation goes down hill.

Re:ALL these should be required (3, Insightful)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710286)

Calculus is the foundation of SO many different things. Almost every discipline from medicine to engineering to economics requires a foundation in calculus to understand.

Not every student needs to go into engineering or economics. A couple of my high school buddies went into auto body and they live FAR better than I do as a programmer (not to mention they were buying homes and starting families while I was still starving in college).

I'm much more concerned that schools are eliminating vocational electives than not requiring algebra II or calc. There is nothing wrong with being an HVAC tech.

Apples and Oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710068)

Why not just teach Algebra in elementary school while we are learning to add apples and oranges? I think most kids get scared by the dreaded "Algebra" in middle school when really they already have been doing it. I know I was freaked out by all this new math because I didn't understand I was already doing it.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710434)

Actually, there's been a push in recent years to gradually phase it in over a few years. Meaning that elementary school students are more likely to see and use some of it with appropriate terminology than in the past. I remember when I was a kid, they would slip a small amount of it into the curriculum surreptitiously without calling it that, hence the shock later one.

Oh, boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710074)

We get to cut more Art classes now!

Correlation |= Causation (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710082)

As many others have noted correlation is not causation, but I have noted a correlation that those who want to make Algebra II a requirement should pay attention to. I have noticed that as we as a nation have increased the "requirements" for graduation, the education level of our graduates has diminished. Central planning does not work, not even in education.

For non-Americans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710110)

...how does Algebra II compare with what we have to take? It looks from the syllabus like it's similar to GCSE Maths (some things omitted, some things included like matrices and logs) which we'd sit at 16...so is it really that easy?

Re:For non-Americans... (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710370)

I have not taken a GCSE Maths test, so I can't really speak to what might actually be on that test. But my impression is that second-year Algebra in the U.S. is a little more in-depth than what is required by the GCSE, as the course is generally taught as a precursor to Calculus. This is one reason why it is not required -- if you have no intention to go on to an education that requires the use of calculus, why should you suffer through the precursors to calculus (which also include a full course on Trigonometry)?

Also, don't sound too smug about the British education system ... apparently you don't actually have to know any maths [telegraph.co.uk] to pass the GCSE Maths test with flying colors.

Re:For non-Americans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710420)

This is a pretty good explanation [wikipedia.org] . My school scheduled "Advanced Algebra" (Algebra II) at 16, Trigonometry at 17 and Calculus at 18, though depending on your level of math preparedness you could be up or down a year or in an honors-level course.

Anyway, I remember doing matrices and logs in Algebra II, as well as probability (my favorite bit.) I seem to recall part of it dealing with compounding interest over various intervals, but don't remember why. Math isn't my strong suit.

That's not the root of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710124)

Come on. It's politics. Everyone can see it except the people who benefit from the current system. They have the kind of deep denial that only those who have built their lives around inequity can obtain.

The last thing the education establishment really wants is for a HS diploma to be worth something again.

How about we also require Prob & Stat? (5, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710132)

"Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success, according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates."

Maybe we should require Probability and Statistics, then, since people still think they can reverse cause and effect.

"Look! Successful people drive expensive cars! Tell your brother to go buy one, that ought to get his business back on its feet in no time!"

Re:How about we also require Prob & Stat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710360)

Maybe we should require Probability and Statistics, then, since people still think they can reverse cause and effect.

"Look! Successful people drive expensive cars! Tell your brother to go buy one, that ought to get his business back on its feet in no time!"

I think that would be in the realm of Logic, not Probability and Statistics.

Mixing up cause and effect (5, Insightful)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710154)

Boy, that's backward thinking. It is because it is optional that it is such a good indicator. Only people who are planning ahead to college, or who actually enjoy math take it. Forcing everyone to take it won't magically make everyone else start planning ahead to college or enjoying math too.

Predictor Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710170)

Maybe it's a predictor of "success" because it's not required. It would seem to me that because it's not currently required, those that take it are willing to educate themselves beyond the bare minimum. Maybe THAT is the predictor of success.

By this time their fate is already decided. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710184)

Seriously, by the time you are taking Algebra II in high school your fate is pretty much decided. You don't take Algebra II and magically become a problem solver, coloration is not causation.

In my highschool, you could choose to take Algebra II, and then Calculus. Or you could take "Life Skills Math" instead and learn how to compute tips and tax on groceries. My point being that the people who are the future successful college students and workers are choosing to take Algebra II because they want to learn or they know it will be invaluable to their education. On the other hand, the people opting out probably have the attitude "why should I do more work if I don't have to" and that usually means they wont be successful students and workers.

As a Software Architect, I say... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710192)

That requiring Algebra II would've prevented me from graduating High School. At that point in my life I didn't know that software is what I wanted to do, and Algebra II was just too abstract for me to spend the effort on learning it. Once I had a way to apply Algebra - it was much easier.

It's already an elective forcing it would only (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710218)

Cause students who are not smart enough to do this to fail or get a bad grade lowering their GPA and making it more difficult for them to get into a good college.

E=MC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710226)

Why do we have to do E=MC again if we have already done it ?

Algebra II is a predictor of performance... (1)

hydrodog (1154181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710230)

Leading economists to conclude that the US is !@*ed

lagging in the percentage of younger workers.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710232)

'lagging in the percentage of younger workers with college degrees...'

Why do we need so many people with college degrees?

Require more than Alg. 2.... (2)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710244)

Schools that just haven't required Algebra 2 are the working-class providers of America. Schools that do require it already seem to be producing students that do succeed better in college and beyond.

I took Algebra 2 in 10th grade and then Precalculus in 11th grade, and then Calculus in 12th grade. I went on to college and graduated with a degree in civil engineering. I have a friend who took Algebra 2 in 12th grade. He went to Devry and.... well, let's just say he wished he worked harder back in high school.

I think at the very least, pre-calculus should be required by the 12th grade.

Re:Require more than Alg. 2.... (2)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710452)

Let's not limit this to Math either. Most schools should be requiring more credits of Math, Science and English Language/Literature. We needed 4 credits of English to graduate from my high school, but only 2 Math, 2 Science, 3 Social Studies and 1.5 Phy Ed credits. Each year long class was a credit and you needed 23 credits total to graduate. 7 periods in a day. That leaves way too many elective courses for students.

I think students should be taking at least 3 years of Math and 3 years of Science. And given the obesity rates in America, perhaps 4 years of Phy Ed.

Them's some low standards of difficulty. (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710260)

Algebra II, and its complexities

What complexities?

yes we need more degrees (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710262)

soon enough you wont even be able to deliver pizza without at least 2 years of debt

Re:yes we need more degrees (1)

hydrodog (1154181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710410)

If John can deliver x pizzas in a week, Jimmy can deliver 2x pizzas, and Marge can deliver 3x+1 pizzas, while John's pay is p, Jimmy's pay = pkx^2while Marge's gets 8*px^1.2, how long before all three jobs are outsourced to China?

Misleading Statements (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710274)

"Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success"

This is not precisely true. The most accurate statement is "The taking (and passing) of math levels beyond Algebra I (and maybe Geometry) is the leading predictor of college and work success." There's nothing about Algebra II as a subject that would innately give humans an edge in college or life success. It's going above and beyond the minimum requirements that's good for the student.

Moreover, a student going above and beyond the minimum may be more than a sign of innate mathematical competence. It may be a symptom of certain school, peer, or family pressures-- all of which combine in the "culture of education" which is a fantastic predictor of being accepted into 4-year institutions of higher education.

Say what? (1)

Happy Nuclear Death (911893) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710292)

I took not only Algebra II, but AP Calculus (AB) in high school. I never thought it made me all that special.

You're going to be in for a world of hurt if you hit college without Algebra II, if you want to do anything even vaguely technical.

In that case..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710310)

...we need to change the teachers, too. My Algebra II teacher was so bad I didn't take another Math class for 15 years. Starting from that point, going forward, I am a straight student who received Cs in Algebra II.

Somewhere there's a disconnect. And it spread to infect everything.

This is Assinine (1)

Agamous Child (538344) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710330)

But not because it "should" be required already, or that the study doesn't correlate.

It's stupid because this is just another way for politicians and businessmen to attach a fix to public education without actually having to do anything.

Let's get rid of Phys Ed (Budget Cuts), Music (Budget Cuts), Art (Budget Cuts), Any language but Spanish (Budget Cuts) But oh hell let's put them all in Algebra 2, then they'll be smart and productive!!!

Some kids are going to college (I don't count 2 year degrees or online schools here) and they need Alg.2, some kids are not, they don't need it. 90% of the population doesn't even do arithmetic every day in their regular jobs, they don't need Alg.2.

All you guys spouting how you took it, and "wow you didn't know that it wasn't required," well let's just say that you were oblivious to all the "regular" ed kids who took Consumer Math. I was in the higher math classes too, but that didn't mean that everyone took them.

causality and side-effects (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710336)

As they say in the study, it's quite possible motivated kids take Algebra II and that's why they do well in life. One of the study authors says the causal relationship is "very very weak." Meanwhile, requiring that everyone take this to graduate means more kids drop out, and then try to go into the workforce with no degree at all.

It'd be really great if we were all Philosopher-Kings that understood everything, but one-size-fits-all education is the sort of utopian idea that has difficulty translating to real life.

Obligatory xkcd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710340)

http://xkcd.com/552/

That is thoroughly stupid (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710408)

Ok, let's look at this. First part of the quote:

Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success

Ok, that makes sense. Second part of the quote:

according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates.

That is idiotic. The reason why Algebra II is a predictor of success is because it is one of the classes you opt-in and take if you're going to college. Only people with career plans in high school take Algebra II - of course it's a predictor of success. And conversely, if you make it mandatory it won't be an indicator anymore.

Reminds me of the joke about the guy who heard that most accidents happen within ten miles of his home, so he moved.

How about Math and Science for BA degrees? (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710418)

At least Stats or Calculus 2xx and Biology, Chem or Geology for Liberal Arts.

More for people getting a teaching certificate, even if you are going to teach English or Arts, have some background knowledge.

Most important Subject? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710460)

So let me get this straight. We want to require Algebra II, but most students who "pass" lower math levels can't handle actually working with it (just look at the cashier at the local convenience store). We graduate students who are functionally illiterate and ignorant of history, government, and many scientific subjects. So even if we do require it, that does not necessitate mastery.

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