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The author of this blog has moved his efforts over to a new group blog. Please visit The Arizona Growler.

O'Hara Factor
Sunday, June 27, 2004

Tom Horne: Reduce math requirement for university admissions

Arizona's state superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne (Republican) has indicated that he wishes to reduce university mathematics admissions requirements for high school students. As it stands, math students need four years in order to get in. Horne told the Board of Regents:

"I think it would be reasonable to reduce (the requirement) to three years but make it so that one year would have to be the senior year."

The article notes that "The results of a study of more than 6,000 high school transcripts from the class of 2002 found that only 16.8 percent of state high school students would qualify for guaranteed admission if the new standards were applied," to which I say "So what?"

Let's put it this way. I took five years of math in high school, the discrepancy coming from taking geometry over the summer before my sophomore year. I didn't even figure out trigonometry in that class. I learned it in my junior year in a senior-level class...with one senior in it. The bottom line is that the students whom universities want are willing to do what it takes to meet the requirements. The others are students who are not qualified to enter a university on mathematical merit and need extra mathematical instruction.

Even for a political science major (like me!), three years is not enough to prevent taking preparatory classes in order to meet the math requirement of MATH 124/125. Regardless of that, some have scholarships that require more math even if you're a political science major. That would be me, too. NROTC requires that I take MATH 129 as well as two semesters of physics!

What if a high school graduate enters as a computer engineering major with only three years of English and has to change his major to political science. I'm very glad I took four years of English; I would be in a hole without it. Of course, teachers are very obstinate about the inclusion of English classes, and I suppose that is a good thing. Writing is a skill that lacks in today's younger generation.

High schools cannot afford to make compromises on subjects just because a student intends to get a certain major. Majors can change at any time, and many will learn that the hard way should this measure pass.


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