News — 29 September 2017

Jen Burnett


Math Pre-Requisites will soon be eliminated

Come Fall 2018, students will be happy to hear that come math prerequisites to complete general education requirements for their AA or transfer degree will be a thing of the past. Students that are not pursuing a major in math or science will not be required to take the currently required intermediate algebra courses.

What does this mean for students? For students who do not test into college level intermediate algebra courses, they will soon be able to take alternative math courses to satisfy their requirements.

According to an article written on EdSource and data obtained from CSU, “Twenty-eight percent of regularly admitted Cal State freshmen are placed in remedial math.”

The article continued, “A recent report from the California Community Colleges system found that the typical transfer student actually accumulated 87 units — nearly a year’s worth more than needed, increasing students’ frustration and their risk of dropping out.”

With these changes, student will finish their degrees faster, and save money without the hassle of taking unnecessary classes. This could be a positive outcome for community colleges as well, as they may see a higher graduation and transfer rate at a faster pace.


As it stands, a student who tests into remedial math has two options; wait 6 months to take the assessment again, or start at a lower level math class and work your way up to intermediate algebra, which is currently the general education requirement level.


For students wishing to obtain their degrees this year, they will still be held under the current requirement. For others, the new 2018 math requirement couldn’t come fast enough.

Lowering math prerequisites seems like a positive alternative to helping students obtain their degrees faster, however the math instructors at Las Positas College school aren’t convinced it’s the best method for students.

Ashley McHale, Math Department Coordinator for Las Positas and her department felt lowering the math prerequisites is a disadvantage for students.

“Algebra concepts are found in abundance throughout our world – from driving your car (distance = rate x time) to paying off credit card debt or a home loan (think exponential growth and decay). You can go through life without understanding amortization, but if you did understand it, you’d save a lot more money in the long term and likely avoid more costly debt accrual. The study of algebra helps to develop logical thinking and problem solving skills that are highly valued by employers,” said McHale.

“The Student Success Scorecard, often used as “evidence” that community colleges aren’t producing results, refers to data from cohorts of students starting in the CC system six years ago, before many initiatives to help students be successful were implemented. The scorecard data will not reflect results from these initiatives for at least 4 more years. Saying that students cannot succeed in an intermediate algebra class with adequate support, or enrolling students in a pre-statistics course that leads only to a statistics course and a non-STEM major, is lowering expectations that can be detrimental to students’ educational goals. “ McHale continued.

While most students asked agree and are happy with the new requirements, there were students who stand with the math department on their views.

Student Ivan Mendoza, who is taking welding courses at Las Positas, believes students should have to pass the intermediate algebra requirement. “You never know when you will want to change your major, so not having the higher math requirements would hurt you. Plus, we did the same math classes in high school,” Mendoza said.

Other students, such as returning student Brianna Ward, agree with the changes. “Most of us don’t use a high degree of math on a daily basis, nor in our jobs. To force students to complete a higher math standard and prolong their math requirements just doesn’t seem fair. I am happy with the change and that we students are being given other alternatives,” said Ward.


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Rachel Hanna

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