Tuesday, December 01, 2009

UM system considers toughening math requirements

Applicants would have to take 4th math course, take math in senior year
By Childs Walker
December 1, 2009
The Baltimore Sun

Students applying to state universities would have to take a fourth math course and take math during their senior year of high school under revised requirements to be considered this week by the university system's Board of Regents.

Math skills atrophy in students who don't take a course their senior year, and those students are more likely to need costly remediation in college, said Chancellor William E. Kirwan, a strong proponent of the tougher application requirements.

"Math is not a spectator sport," said Kirwan, a one-time math professor. "If you get away from it for a year, you lose a lot. The research is pretty clear and consistent that it makes a difference to have math your senior year."

The new requirements would ask students to complete Algebra II and if they do so before senior year, to take another course at least as difficult. The changes, crafted in collaboration with the Maryland State Department of Education, would go into effect for students beginning ninth grade in 2011.

The requirements would align with a national trend toward toughening math standards, part of a larger quest to produce more science, technology, math and engineering, or STEM, professionals. The National Governors Association is leading an effort to develop core standards for high schools across the nation and those standards might include similar math requirements.

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