June 5, 2014
DALLAS (SMU) – Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, Texas no longer requires its high school students to take Algebra II to graduate, leaving just 21 states that require the course.
But as students finalize their classes for fall, SMU math education researchers advise parents to encourage their students to take Algebra II, whether it is required or not.
"Research demonstrates many good reasons to take Algebra II," says Leanne Ketterlin-Geller, director of SMU's Research in Mathematics Education program and associate professor of education policy and leadership at SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. "It is all about abstract thinking and reasoning, which are important skills."
Here are Ketterlin-Geller's five reasons to take Algebra II:
- Teaches students to solve problems with multiple variables: Algebra II helps students understand how changing one variable can affect other variables. For example, Dana wants to sell her hand-made bracelets to her friends. She invested an initial $50 in supplies. The materials for each bracelet cost $6.50. Dana wants to sell the bracelets for $10 each. She will break even when she sells enough bracelets to equal her expenses. How many bracelets will she need to sell to break even?
- Necessary for STEM careers: Most colleges and universities still require Algebra II for admission; it is particularly important background material for those considering studying science, technology or engineering in college. Research shows that students who successfully complete Algebra II are more likely to graduate from college.
- Important skill for trade and technical careers: Algebra II skills help with data interpretation, proportions, measurements and equations, important skills for most trade and technical skills.
- Helps develop critical thinking skills: Algebra II developsabstract thinking and reasoning skills, which help students weigh options and make wise decisions.
- Keeps doors open to future opportunities: "Yes, Algebra II is hard," Ketterlin-Geller says. "Students may struggle. But don't give up without even starting. Don't close doors in your student's junior year of high school. It's hard to get that opportunity back."
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