The Texas Board of Education is expected to finalize a mandate change that will drop Algebra 2 from its minimum requirements for graduation. Individual school districts would still have the option to keep it as a requirement.
It would remain a requirement for many honors diplomas as well as education tracks focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics including students at Northside independent school district's Science and Engineering Academy at John Jay high school.
"Algebra 2 is almost the beginning of their math experience," said Academy principal Jay Sumpter. "Some students take two years of Calculus, statistics, pre-Calculus."
Supporters of the move say the curriculum requirements didn't meet the needs of the modern workforce and the change would allow some students to take other electives more suited to careers that don't require extensive math backgrounds or even college degrees.
"It's pretty hard for a 13 or 14-year-old to know what they want, so that's why it's important for us to remain flexible for families," said Sumpter.
Texas was the first state to add Algebra 2 as a required course 7 years ago and 17 other states along with the District of Columbia followed its lead. While Florida dropped the requirement last year, opponents of the move fear Texas could lead a new trend.
Patte Barth, the director of the Center for Public Education said, "Algebra II is a really, really powerful predictive value on whether kids go to college, but it goes on and on after that: more likely to have a full-time job, have a job with benefits, be healthier."
The state board of education will vote on the issue Friday.