MDRC in the News

CSU Will Abandon Proposal to Create Fourth Year Math Requirement for Admission



After years of debate, the California State University Board of Trustees Tuesday signaled its plan to abandon a proposal to require a fourth year of math for admission to the 23-campus system. 

“We see this as a major win and applaud the CSU for deciding not to create yet another barrier to college access and success,” said Denise Castro, a policy analyst at The Education Trust-West, a nonprofit organization that advocates for educational justice…..

…..An independent analysis of the fourth year math proposal conducted by MDRC, an independent research firm, found high school and K-12 district staff were concerned about the capacity of schools to provide the courses needed to fulfill the requirement. Only 60% of all high school graduates in the state are now meeting A-G course requirements, the set of classes students must take to be eligible to admission to a Cal State or University of California campus. Adding another math course would only exclude more students from attending the state’s public universities…..

…..The study also found that students who already meet the A-G course requirements for CSU admission often take and pass an additional quantitative reasoning course. For example, 94% of students who met the A-G requirement also took an additional quantitative reasoning course. 

“The good news coming out of this research is that the vast majority of California high school graduates that may aspire to attend a CSU are already taking and passing an additional quantitative reasoning course even though it is not currently required,” said Susan Sepanik, a senior associate with MDRC…..

….Opponents of the proposal have argued for years that K-12 schools, especially those that disproportionately enroll Black, Latino and low-income students, have a shortage of available STEM teachers to offer an additional math requirement. Meanwhile, research has shown that students who do take an additional year of math in high school are better prepared for college math. The MDRC study highlighted that those students were more likely to attain a degree in six years and more likely to attain a STEM degree…..

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