## Requiring Algebra II In High School Gains Momentum 490

Posted
by
Soulskill

from the who-got-their-alphabet-in-my-math dept.

from the who-got-their-alphabet-in-my-math dept.

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."*
## Correlation is not Causation (Score:2, Insightful)

And algebra II isn't already required? 0_o

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

## Re: (Score:2)

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: (Score:3)

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: (Score:3)

On the contrary. Highschool level Geometry is important. It is where you are taught to derive proofs based upon postulates and theorems. It is the process that is important, not the results, per se.

I thought much the same as you while I was taking it, but later on when I took linear algebra, and modern algebra, the lifeline of the teachings from my Highschool geometry course were of incalculable value. Of course, I took it back in 1980, and the times/curricula may (or likely) have changed.

## Re: (Score:3)

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: (Score:2)

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: (Score:3, Interesting)

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: (Score:3, Interesting)

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: (Score:3, Insightful)

Every single male should be able to produce 3 kick ass dinners and a great breakfast. Will help said single male to become a not single male.

## Re: (Score:3)

## Re:Correlation is not Causation (Score:4, Interesting)

I got that, along with "repair" level sewing, some cooking, and baking skills when I took Home Ec.

Being the only straight male in class with 24 females was just a bonus.

## Re:Correlation is not Causation (Score:4, Insightful)

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.'

We had tracks based on ability, and you're describing the "general math" / "consumer math" track.

Lots of bitter feeling toward it... Generally speaking, the kids who were not going to make any money got all the education about money, while the kids who were going to make fat stacks of cash were carefully not educated about money but instead educated on stuff far beyond what they'd ever use on the job.

Set up for failure, by careful design.

## Re: (Score:3)

When I'm waiting in line behind you at lunchtime, I'd much prefer you count your money on your own time. Walking people step-by-step through basic addition and subtraction on every transaction wastes everyone's time.

## Correlation is not causation (Score:5, Insightful)

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 (Score:4, Funny)

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: (Score:3)

Yeah, Benjamin Franklin, for example.

## Re: (Score:3)

"Education" in the abstract is one of the most overrated things around. A good elementary education covers the vast majority of people's needs. Anything beyond that ought to be up to parents and kids

## Re:Correlation is not causation (Score:5, Insightful)

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 (Score:5, Insightful)

Algebra II could be neither necessary nor sufficient, but still correlated with success. For instance, it could be that kids who are able and/or motivated to take Algebra II are likely to be successful.

## Alternative Suggestion (Score:4, Interesting)

To be frank, for most occupations Algebra II is simply not necessary, and most will forget it anyhow.

I suggest that

Boolean logic, set theory, and basic statisticsbe required instead. Those are more applicable to the actual work world. As manufacturing drifts overseas and the US specializes in fads, marketing, and finance, "physical" math is less needed, while discrete and statistical math is replacing it as a need.## Re:Alternative Suggestion (Score:4, Insightful)

I would like to see more emphasis on statistics in high school as well. Too many otherwise intelligent people don't understand things like random sampling, estimation, and error. We'd have a lot fewer of those, "how can only 1,000 people in a poll represent the opinions of 250 million adults" types of questions.

Sadly we still see those types of comments here at Slashdot.

BTW, there's very little in statistics that requires more than Algebra I.

## Re: (Score:3)

Algebra forces you to work with abstract mental representation. Algebra I gets you thinking "if I two X's equal 24, how many will 6 X's get me". Algebra II kicks it up to a whole other level of abstract thinking, like working with multiple variables and modeling mathematical relationships. Never mind the benefits from having access to higher math, this thinking is hugely helpful in cognitive development.

No single class is going to make you win at life. Algebra definitely gives you some tools that will h

## Re:Correlation is not causation (Score:5, Insightful)

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 (Score:3)

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: (Score:3)

Math education was terrible when I was in school. I am a practical person: without real world problems, I can't get a real handle on anything. When I took Calculus I hated derivatives...It was never explained what they were *for*...It just seemed like masturbation. The next semester I took physics and the prof made some offhanded remark about the equations of motion, and the whole thing became perfectly fucking clear! I had goddamn twitching foaming epiphany right in the middle of fucking class! I wanted to

## Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

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?

Real world is filled with examples where you could apply Algebra to learn or estimate things. Most people react, rather than plan, but assume you make $20/hr, work 20 miles from home, gas is $4/gallon, house payment is $500/mo., etc. You could run kids through learning how much disposable income they'll have depending upon changes in any of the variables.

I had a government teacher, who was a lawyer, consider events in the days news in light of constitutional law, whether it was a States Rights or Federal

## Re:Correlation is not causation (Score:5, Insightful)

I hear the complaint "teachers will teach to the exam" all the time as an argument against standardized testing. Damn right they will. If this results in a poor education, it means

they weren't good exams(e.g., the SAT). I had standardized exams at the end of my secondary education and we had to know the material damn well to do well on them."Teaching to the test" is a talking point, not a valid criticism. It presupposes the system will be implemented badly. Anything and everything will fail when the execution is poor.

## Re: (Score:3)

## Re:Correlation is not causation (Score:5, Insightful)

> And the uncomfortable elephant in the room is what do you do with the ones who can't specialize and can't apply? The ones who can barely pass rote memorization even with lowered standards? Pat them on the back and throw them at the nearest menial labor recruiter?

Auto shop. Electric shop. Plumbing shop.

And for the record that doesn't mean they won't do well in life. The oil change in my boat was quoted at 80$ an hour and cost me a total of $700, since the mechanic had to move a battery, remove the alternator to get around at things.

## Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

Don't put down those fields. You would be absolutely amazed at how much MORE difficult those are than, say, getting a BS in computer science. Yes, I said it, MORE difficult.

You want to be a construction electrician, with the top end license? Here's the requirements:

- Approximately 5 years of experience in the field to get your journeyman's license. Until you have that, you cannot work alone (except in a building without power, I believe). You also cannot apply power to any circuits without them

## Re: (Score:2)

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: (Score:2, Insightful)

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 (Score:4, Informative)

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.”

## Re: (Score:3)

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 h

## Re: (Score:3)

"Making everyone take it is going to have about as much success as cargo cults did."

Oopsie. You not only assumed a correlation (smarter kids take algebra), you also assumed it was also causation (smart kids taking algebra do better later in college). Yes, you should know better.

The proper thing to do is an experiment. Make some kids take algebra and see if they do better. Oh, that's what they're trying to do.

## Re: (Score:2)

Especially since in this case there's good reason to think that the folks proposing this have it precisely backwards: Any student who is seen as being college material will be pushed to take Algebra II and do well in it, whereas any student who is seen as being burger-flipper material will be pushed towards more vocational classes. So it's not so much a predictor of future college-level success as it is an indicator of some other predictors being present.

Most of those other predictors are well-known:

## Re: (Score:3)

One of the study's authors actually says that:

It's a mindless "We gotta do something!" attitude. From what I've read over the years, your early childhood environment (nutrition + parenting + stimulation) plus your parents (educated parents => educated kids, successful p

## Re: (Score:3)

This is going to sound cruel and like crazy librarian ranting but I the only reason that anti-education and anti-intellectual thinking persists is because people can get away with it!

If not doing well in school (for a regular person not being disabled or something) doomed one to life of virtual slavery taking any job you can get for any pay someone might be willing to give you and usually not having enough to eat, I suspect few people would waste the opportunity public education affords them. Teenagers are

## Re: (Score:3)

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 studen

## Re: (Score:2)

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: (Score:3)

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.

There seems to be some confusion of terms here, as my high school did not have any Algebra III class, and if you took the Algebra II/Trigonometry series, that

was"Pre-Calculus"; there was no other required class before you could go directly into Calculus. Even at my local community college, Pre-Calculus is a refresher class for people who don't feel confident enough about the core algebra/trig concepts to move on to Calculus (perhaps because they're adults and it's been a while since they had math in schoo## Re: (Score:3)

That said, I'm in full support of requiring Algebra II in high school. I think continuously pushing students is a great learning technique

I'm not sure I agree. In my experience, the kids who succeed in higher math in high school were the ones who were

challengedby earlier classes butrewardedfor their successes, which inspired them to keep going on to still more challenging classes. If you go around "pushing" students, pretty soon you'll find you're dragging them instead. Resentment sets in, then defiance, and you've pretty much switched off any part of their brains that enjoyed the process of education.## Re: (Score:3)

As I've said elsewhere, at my school there was sort of an unspoken division between college-bound students and those who were not college-bound. For college-bound students, you didn't really need to make specific class requirements for graduation, because you don't get to be an engineer without studying math, you don't become a doctor without taking biology, etc. You won't get into upper-division college courses without fulfilling the prerequisites, so the kids who want to get out of college in four years s

## Re: (Score:3)

I think it's legitimate to have a high school diploma be a certificate of basic competency for the workforce. If you have a diploma, a prospective employer can assume you can read at an adult level, spell decently well, and do enough math to handle a cash register. Hopefully you also know enough about science, history, and civics to get along in society. But does an auto mechanic really need to know how to compute the number of moles of exhaust that comes out of an engine when each piston fires? I don't thi

## Re: (Score:2)

I'm not American - does Algebra II cover Boolean algebra and logic?

## That's nice (Score:2)

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 prob

## Require? (Score:2)

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: (Score:2)

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: (Score:2)

## Personal info disclosure here (Score:2)

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: (Score:3)

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.

## Re: (Score:2)

Yes. And my niece who teaches fifth grade last year was required to teach vertice edge graphs and parallel/series resistance. to meet state testing requirements.

Not Ohm's Law, mind you. Just series/parallel resistance.

I had to go look up vertice edge graphs. What the &*($ does a fifth grader need those for? The state exam? Stupid.

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

## Re: (Score:2, Funny)

im guessing its an American thing .. like Web 2.0

## Re: (Score:2)

## Re: (Score:2)

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'

## Re: (Score:2)

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

## Re: (Score:2)

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: (Score:2)

...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: (Score:2)

Solving equations, graphing, factoring polynomials, reducing polynomials, square roots, cube roots, n-th roots.

Imaginary numbers, complex numbers, quadratic equation.

Matrix math.

## Re: (Score:2)

Solving equations, graphing, factoring polynomials, reducing polynomials, square roots, cube roots, n-th roots.

Imaginary numbers, complex numbers, quadratic equation.

Matrix math.

If you take all that stuff out of my algebra class, that would have left.... Um... the concept of what is a variable and variable substitution, and not much else? I'm struggling to think what would remain in Alg I if that all got pulled out into Alg II.

There was a "pre-algebra" class expected to be taken in middle school that covered stuff like matrix math and imaginary numbers, complex numbers, etc. Perhaps the order has been inverted and they do that stuff after algebra now instead of before?

## Correlation |= Causation (Score:2)

## Re: (Score:2)

The phrase "correlation is not causation" doesn't apply here. It's pretty well understood what students are missing out on when they don't take that level of math and what knowing it does for people. If we were talking about calculus or differential equations, I'd say that you've got a point, but a surprising amount of life is made harder by an ignorance of high school level math.

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

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: (Score:3)

And yet even your counter-example has some validity. Any salesperson or real estate agent will tell you that dressing nicely and driving a nice car DOES matter.

There are no easy or guaranteed solutions in education, but I think adding a little more math is likely to be fruitful.

## Re: (Score:3)

## Re: (Score:3)

Logic if it was deductively reasoned, stat if it was based on a correlation coefficient calculation, business-marketing class if it was based on an advertisement.

## Mixing up cause and effect (Score:5, Insightful)

becauseit is optional that it is such a good indicator. Only people who are planning ahead to college, or who actuallyenjoymath take it. Forcing everyone to take it won't magically make everyone else start planning ahead to college or enjoying math too.## Re: (Score:3)

...maybe. The failure of correlation to prove causation does not mean that a causal relationship doesn't exist.

I think certainly your argument holds water, kinds of people who elect to take more advanced math courses are probably more likely to continue learning math. But it also seems probably (at least plausible) that the kids that receive higher math education are then better equipped to succeed. And these points are not dichotomous, both effects can be happening at once.

At the very least, this is an

## It's already an elective forcing it would only (Score:2)

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.

## Re:It's already an elective forcing it would only (Score:4, Insightful)

## Require more than Alg. 2.... (Score:2)

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 sch

## Re: (Score:2)

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

## Them's some low standards of difficulty. (Score:2)

Algebra II, and its complexities

What complexities?

## Re: (Score:3)

## Misleading Statements (Score:4, Insightful)

"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.

## causality and side-effects (Score:2)

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 r

## That is thoroughly stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

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

Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work successOk, 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.

## Re: (Score:2)

Only people with career plans in high school take Algebra II - of course it's a predictor of success.

That's it! We'll make career plans a high school requirement!

## Re: (Score:3)

I like the one about the guy who brings his own bomb on a plane because while having one bomb on a plane is rare, having two bombs on a plane is even more rare.

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

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.

## Question (been a while) (Score:2)

Where does Algebra II start up? It's been 20+ years since high school, so I forget the line between Alg I & Alg II.

Also, nothing wrong with a little edumication! [yes, that was on porpoise]

## Just algebra? (Score:4, Insightful)

## Re: (Score:3)

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

## Re: (Score:2)

## Re:Just algebra? (Score:5, Funny)

6, roughly. Ignoring air friction.

## Re: (Score:3)

bea semester that doesn't include at least one math course. The pace and rigor of primary education is terribly lacking and this more than anything is to blame for underachievement, not intellectual capacity. Americans simply do not value education and the fact that we're even having this conversation reflect it.## Re: (Score:3)

Calculus just isn't useful to most people graduating high school. Learning the mathematical definition of a limit isn't going to benefit, say, a future baker in any way. why teach it to them?

## Re:Just algebra? (Score:4, Insightful)

Not all societies have the notion that the purpose of education is to make you a useful cog.

## Re: (Score:3)

Learning the mathematical definition of a limit isn't going to benefit, say, a future baker in any way. why teach it to them?

You hold a party and invite one friend, with instructions for that person to invite another friend who will eat half as much as your friend. That guest then has instructions to invite another friend who eats half as much, and so forth.

It takes 1 cup of flour to make a loaf of bread for your friend, and thus, 1/2 cup of flour to make a loaf of bread for your friend's friend, 1/4 for your friend's friend's friend, etc. Assuming infinitely many people show up at your party (and you do not consume any bread)

## Statistics and Financial Math (Score:4, Insightful)

For most people, it would be more useful to teach either statistics or financial math than calculus. We teach calculus because it's next in math or engineering education. But for ANY of the social sciences and several of the sciences statistics is more useful, and for life financial math is more useful.

## No requirement will suffice... (Score:4, Insightful)

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.

## Re:No requirement will suffice... (Score:4, Interesting)

My wife substitute teaches at a local elementary school and this is my "cool story bro'" anecdotal evidence.

Schools CAN NOT fail students who are performing poorly. Failing an unruly, constant behavioral problem student, who refuses to do work and whose parents refuse to take any action at home, will only make the school's No Child Left Behind score go down and hurt their $$$. So the schools push these troublemakers on up the line.

"Specialists" do everything except fill in the bubble on the standardized tests to ensure that EVERY student passes. It is not about ensuring kids have learned what they're supposed to, or that they can perform at grade appropriate levels, it's all about making sure they PASS.

We're planning on switching over to home schooling next year or possibly the year after - or move to a different district. The local public school system is a sad, cruel joke.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx4pN-aiofw [youtube.com]

## Waiting for Superman (Score:3)

Everyone should watch the school documentary Waiting for Superman:

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100929/REVIEWS/100929981 [suntimes.com]

It's possible to take the same group of kids from the same underprivileged neighborhood, and send some of them to public schools where 50% will fail to graduate, and send some from the same pool to charter schools where *for less money per student* 90% will go on to attend college. It really is all about the schools, teachers, and methods, not the students, n

## Re: (Score:3)

## Re: (Score:2)

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:ALL these should be required (Score:4, Insightful)

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.

## Re:Require a class on abstract logic! (Score:4, Informative)

## Re: (Score:2)

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 Trigono

## Re: (Score:2)

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.