The Texas Board of Education has given preliminary approval to a plan that will eliminate algebra II as a high school graduation requirement for more students.
The Texas state legislature gave unanimous approval to the change back in May as part of a huge overhaul of the state’s graduation and high-stakes standardized testing regime, reports The Dallas Morning News.
Proponents of the elimination of the algebra II requirement and other academic requirements say the change provides more choices. Now, they say, more students can learn a trade or focus on practical career training if they want.
Opponents say the change weakens academic standards.
The Board of Education toyed with the idea of defying democratically-elected lawmakers and keeping the algebra II requirement. In the end, though, they decided that would be a bad idea.
There will be three opportunities for board members to change their votes between now and January.
If the changes remain intact, only students who pursue STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering and math) and “distinguished” diploma tracks will be required to take algebra II.
Other features of the new curriculum law include a reduction of mandatory standardized tests from 15 (the highest in the nation) to five.
As of today, 17 states, still including Texas, either make algebra II mandatory or put students in a default curriculum track that will include the course, notes the Morning News.
Other states have already dropped or lowered algebra requirements. In February, for example, California stopped requiring eighth-graders to take algebra—a move that is line with the Common Core standards now adopted by most states, but that may leave students unprepared for college. (RELATED: California no longer requiring eighth graders to take Algebra)
The state of Texas is one of just five states which have not adopted the Common Core curriculum.