UMD requires high school math

Dec. 17, 2009, 3:19 p.m. | By Jess Miller | 14 years, 5 months ago

College prioritizes the core academic subject

The University of Maryland Board of Regents approved a decision on Dec. 4 that will require undergraduate applicants to take four years of high school math, including a course their senior year, according to Teri Hollander, the associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Hollander said that the university system plans to work with the Maryland State Department of Education to review math courses offered to students in an effort to allow prospective students to satisfy the university's new requirement, according to Hollander. "Shortly, a letter will be sent to each Maryland school district superintendent and guidance supervisor explaining the new requirement to be effective for students entering 9th grade in 2011”, she said. The university will also have a web site to provide ifnormation about the school's requirements available to students and parents.

The University of Maryland will work with other states as well so that out of state students will be able to meet the requirements, Hollander said. The information will be available on the website of the University System of Maryland (USM), which is universally accessible.

Hollander said that there are 18 states that currently require four years of math in order to obtain a high school diploma.

According to Hollander, admissions previously required that students take Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry in high school. The admissions protocol did not specify whether a math course needed to be taken during a student's senior year.

According to Mike Boyle, mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, taking a fourth year of math was already a suggestion for prospective students. "For several years, along with its list of high school courses required of freshman applicants, our campus has included a statement that a fourth year of mathematics is strongly recommended,” he said.

According to Hollander, the purpose of this change in requirements is to strengthen the mathematical skills of those entering the university. "This is to decrease the ‘use it or lose it' gap. Numerous studies have shown that if mathematics is not taken in the final year of high school, [students] are more likely to require some remedial mathematics course work in college,” she said.

Hollander also said that the University anticipates that the implementation of the new requirement will decrease the need for those remedial math courses, allowing students to take other courses during their college years.

Blair calculus and college prep teacher Peter Engelmann believes that the policy will serve as motivation for prospective University of Maryland students. "This will serve as a wake up call for students who want to go to Maryland so that they won't have to take remedial math courses in college. That can change a [student's] four-year college plan into a five-year college plan,” he said.

Engelmann said that solidifying math skills in high school leads to benefits in college and careers. Hollander agreed that taking high school math courses will prove to be advantageous once students are in college. "We expect that the requirement will improve the preparation of students to successfully complete college-level mathematics,” she said.

The new requirement was proposed to the seventeen-member Board of Regents this past summer to USM, and many Maryland educational groups were consulted, according to Hollander. "The proposed revisions were widely disseminated [to, among other groups] USM provosts, student affairs vice presidents, faculty, MD PTA, MD Teachers Association, Baltimore Teachers Union, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, MHEC Secretary for Higher Education in late September for comments,” she said.

According to Hollander, the Board received only positive comments on the proposal from members of the University. "I think it's a very healthy development,” said Boyle. The revisions were reviewed at the Board's November meeting, she said.
The University of Maryland plans to allow room for some exceptions to the requirement. "All USM institutions have some discretions,” Hollander said. "Up to 15 percent of the freshman class may be admitted [without adhering to] the USM policy.”

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Jess Miller. Jess is a page editor for Silver Chips Print. She is a CAP junior who aspires to one day become a Nationals wife. More »

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