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Why Taking Math Senior Year is A Nonnegotiable Posted on:Saturday, June 17th, 2017


Every year I hear the same relentless plea from students wanting out of their senior year math course. It usually goes something like “I already met my requirements,” or “I don’t even need this for my major.”

According to Louise Jaffe, Education Researcher and Santa Monica College Trustee, “placement in developmental math [is] one of the single greatest barriers to college completion.” An alarming rate of students entering community college are testing into remedial level math, putting them at risk for dropping out.

The math sequence required for community college students to reach college level math can add an additional semester or even year to their pathway. Between registration wars, tutoring, work, and other real-life responsibilities, students often grow weary of the process and give up.

According to Jaffe, “every course a student takes beyond Algebra 2 doubles the odds of them completing college.”  The tables below show how a sample of students scored on the college placement test by ethnicity:



As you can see only 17% of Black, 18% Latino, 56% Asian, and 36% Caucasian students tested into college level math.

If you’re thinking about attending a community college and you want to improve your math trajectory for college than you’ve got to consider these cold facts:

1)      Where are you starting?  The math class you take in 9th grade determines your math pathway. If you start in Algebra 1, the chances of moving well beyond Algebra 2 decrease.  Especially when factoring in the need to repeat any classes.

2)      Where did you stop? Most students stop at Algebra 2. As mentioned earlier going beyond Algebra 2 doubles your odds of completing college.

3)      When did you stop? Most students stop taking math their junior year. The research says “KEEP GOING.” Sorry to yell.  Not taking math your senior year diminishes your chance for post-secondary success, and may screw you over when it comes time for taking your placement tests.

So in conclusion, taking math your senior year is a non-negotiable.  Setting your goal on completing graduation requirements is fine. But if you want to succeed in college, you’ve got to move the goalpost, and think bigger.

Still not convinced?  Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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  • John Bluth June 5, 2014 at 4:28 am

    Dude, could you have picked an easier problem? I could solve that kind of problem in 9th grade.

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