Kansas Eyes Ending Required College Algebra — Too Many Students Can't Pass It

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Did you take college algebra? A new generation of baccalaureate-bearing Kansans may soon overwhelmingly answer with “No.” There’s a substantial chance the state will 86 its algebra requirement.


Few graduates end up employing high-level algebra in their chosen career fields; but that’s not necessarily why it might get subtracted.

As noted by NPR in Kansas City, there’s a much more primary problem:

About one in three Kansas students fails college algebra the first time around.

According to KCUR, the exasperating subject eliminates would-be alumni:

Some take it several times before they pass. Others get so frustrated that they drop out altogether. And that cuts into university graduation rates.

And what do you do if people can’t pass a well-established subject? Instead of failing students, you give the subject an “F.”

Additionally, Kansas Board of Regents Vice President of Academic Affairs Daniel Archer says, “Algebra, schmalgebra”:

“We’re sending the majority of students down the college algebra road, which is really not necessary. It’s not practical. It’s not really needed. And it’s not relevant for their fields.”

NPR claims ubiquitous college algebra is only intended to prepare students for college calculus, which most majors don’t require. And a cutting-edge educational revolution ousts what isn’t essential:

The approach, known as Math Pathways, does away with the assumption that all students need college algebra. Instead, it incorporates alternative requirements such as statistics and quantitative reasoning.

If you stop forcing people to figure out algebra, more attendees will one day wear tassels:

Georgia State University adopted the approach along with other changes and it has boosted its graduation rate by five percentage points over the past seven years.


Could such consideration be a monetary move? After all, college costs beaucoup bucks; and dropouts don’t drop their money on classes.

To hear Daniel tell it, it’s an issue of applicability:

“You’re trying to base [course requirements] on the skills that are needed in that…professional career. If you’re going to major in political science, you’d be far better suited to take a stats class.”

The state is extensively examining Math Pathways:

Over the next several months, the Kansas Board of Regents plans to put together an advisory group to explore Math Pathways. It’ll look at data from other university systems and get feedback from Kansas colleges about whether, and how quickly, the state might implement new requirements.

It seems to me talk of only teaching what’s critical for careers works against the educational apparatus — there are very few American occupations that non-college graduates couldn’t learn via on-the-job training. If universities were to solely require courses without which employees couldn’t reasonably enter most entry-level positions, they’d end up necessitating nothing.

Either way, in an evolved America, success isn’t what’s gained through enduring incredible difficulty. Increasingly, we’re starting at the finish line and then determining which obstacles must be removed for everyone to easily arrive there.

As explained by Daniel, there are “roadblocks” — reasons why students aren’t graduating. One of those reasons: classes…


“It’s incumbent on us to be aware of all the roadblocks that are out there for students…reasons why they’re leaving, reasons why they’re not graduating. So I would urge us all to…find ways to find the bandwidth to keep this moving along.”

That is likely what secondary education will do. Plus, there are more pressing problems — why worry about solving for “x” or “y” when we’ve got to ensure students are incorporating neopronouns such as “zie“?



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