High schools should require four years of math

5 April 2017
Nick Rethford, Apprentice Editor

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has placed more value on a fourth year of high school math, but their efforts are not enough.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister have revealed a new college math prep course that Oklahoma schools can offer to high school seniors. This reveal couldn’t have come at a better time, due in part to the state’s whopping 39 percent of first-year college students who have to take remedial math. With OSDE’s current graduation requirement of only three years’ worth of high school math courses, it’s no wonder that high school seniors are skipping out on math and then going into college behind. Not only does this course come as a much needed blessing, but the OSDE should take it one step further and add a fourth year of math to Oklahoma’s requirement.

The math course, called College Career Math Ready, will act as a transition course that builds off of the concepts from prior math courses and prepares students for college-level math. This is super important for students who want to further their education, because colleges do actually look to see if students maintain rigorous schedules throughout high school, and a student who took a math course their senior year is going to look a lot better than a student who didn’t.

Plus, taking the math prep course is going to save a lot of time and money for a student who would otherwise have to pay to take a remedial math class that they will not receive any college credit for. That might not sound like much at first, but Oklahoma families shell out about 22.2 million a year for remedial classes for their children who decided to slack off their senior year.

The College Career Math Ready course, as well as any senior-level math course, can provide benefits that reach beyond high school and college. Organizations such as Achieve, Inc., Sparrow Point HighA fourth year of math can provide a better understanding of math in everyday life, strengthen analytical and critical thinking skills and lead to increased career opportunities.

By the year 2025, three-fourths of Oklahoma jobs will require a postsecondary certificate, meaning some sort of college degree. This course was created to bridge the gap between high school and college so that students can have access to these opportunities without having to play catch-up in remedial courses, which can drastically affect how well students perform in college. Only 30.6 percent of college freshman enrolled in remedial classes at any of Oklahoma’s four-year colleges finish their degree within a six year period, if at all.

Unfortunately, though, while this math course is a step in the right direction, there are still many more kinks to be worked out before any real progress can be made. Currently, the course is only offered at select high schools, so many students who want to better their futures will be out of luck. Many schools are jumping on the bandwagon, including Tulsa Public Schools, but the process is moving slowly, meaning that many seniors in the next one to two years will be missing out on this opportunity.

Furthermore, the students who do get the chance to enroll in the course will only receive an elective credit for passing, not a math credit, because that makes sense. Who would ever be crazy enough to offer a math credit for a math class?

The biggest flaw in this plan, though, is the fact that the course is still not required. And, sure, there are plenty of other math course a high school senior could take, but, once again, none of those are required either. That means many juniors enrolling for their senior year are going to look at pretty any math course, and say “eh, it sounds like a lot of work. I don’t have to take it, so I’m not going to.”

And why should they? Not requiring a fourth year of math is like saying there’s no reason to take it. And until the OSDE decides to take this matter seriously and make a fourth year of math a requirement, no one else will.