Michael Burke/EdSource
California State University trustees as members of the public speak against proposal to require a fourth year of math for admissions.

California State University’s proposal to require a fourth year of high school math for freshman admissions faced more resistance at a public hearing Thursday, when about four dozen public commenters and representatives from advocacy groups reiterated concerns that the requirement would harm black and Latino students.

Over the course of the four-hour hearing at CSU’s headquarters in Long Beach, some critics urged the trustees to reject the proposal outright, arguing that many high schools don’t have enough teachers to teach a fourth year of math. Others, including two trustees, said they favor CSU postponing a vote on the proposal, saying that CSU needs to study the issue more extensively.

“I would suggest to the committee that we find a way to be more inclusive in developing this proposal, even if we have to postpone it,” trustee Silas Abrego said during the hearing hosted by CSU’s Committee on Educational Policy. Student trustee Juan García also said he supports postponing a vote. 

But trustee and committee chair Peter Taylor indicated that he hopes to move forward with the vote as scheduled. An information session on the proposal is scheduled for late September and the vote for November. 

“We’ll see if trustees can get comfortable enough to move forward. If not we’ll move to Plan B,” Taylor said, without elaborating on what Plan B would be. 

The proposal, which would go into effect beginning with incoming freshmen in 2026, would require CSU applicants to complete a fourth year of high school math or a quantitative reasoning course, such as computer science, statistics or an extra science lab.

Currently, CSU requires three years of math and recommends a fourth as part of the A-G course requirements that make a student eligible for admission depending on their grades. The A-G requirements also apply to the 10-campus University of California system. 

Supporters say that a fourth-year math requirement would improve CSU’s graduation rates because it would better prepare students for mandatory college math classes. But critics fear that the requirement would harm underrepresented students — particularly black and Latino students — who may lack access to 12th-grade math courses, making it more difficult for them to attend the nation’s largest public university system.

Officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District, where more than 70 percent of students are Latino, say the proposal would disproportionately harm black and Latino students who attend underfunded schools that don’t offer a fourth year of math. The district approved a resolution in June formally opposing the proposal.

Colleen Pagter, a legislative liaison for L.A. Unified, said during Thursday’s hearing that the proposal would “further exacerbate the existing barriers to eligibility, especially for historically underrepresented students.”

“This proposal is also moving forward in the absence of a comprehensive evaluation that clearly articulates why this change is necessary and lacks concrete evidence of the impact on underrepresented students,” she added.

Other groups opposed to the proposal include several advocacy organizations, including the Campaign for College Opportunity and Education Trust-West. 

Audrey Dow, senior vice president for the Campaign for College Opportunity, said “no vote should be taken” until CSU studies the potential effects of the proposal at greater length. 

“We think there’s simply too much uncertainty of what the impact would be of this change and still uncertainty about whether or not this change is even necessary,” she said. 

CSU leaders in support of the proposal have said that students who enroll with four years of high school math are more prepared for college math courses.

CSU has also said the proposal would include an exception for any students who cannot fulfill the requirement because of limits at their high schools. 

The requirement, supporters argue, could even help black and Latino students because it would better prepare them to pursue science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — fields in college. CSU data presented Thursday shows that students of all races and ethnicities have higher retention and graduation rates when they enter college with a fourth year of high school math or quantitative reasoning. 

Loren Blanchard, CSU’s executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, acknowledged concerns that there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that the requirement would be in the best interest of all students.

“But if the benchmark for public policy was 100 percent certainty, there would be no public policies. Progress would have stagnated decades ago,” he said. “We are confident that the data and evidence are sufficient, that a quantitative reasoning admission requirement is the right thing to do.”

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  1. Tim 2 months ago2 months ago

    Stop teaching this ridiculous Common Core Math. It is English language based and is a racist tool. Teach Math as they do in Japan.

  2. Ze'ev Wurman 2 months ago2 months ago

    The San Francisco Chronicle seems to be a bit more explicit as to what such "quantitative reasoning" class is about: "Beginning in 2026, the university is proposing that high school students who want to attend one of the 23 CSU campuses have to take an extra class that counts as “quantitative reasoning,” meaning that it gets kids thinking about numbers. The idea is that adults today need to be able to solve problems. University officials and faculty … Read More

    The San Francisco Chronicle seems to be a bit more explicit as to what such “quantitative reasoning” class is about:

    “Beginning in 2026, the university is proposing that high school students who want to attend one of the 23 CSU campuses have to take an extra class that counts as “quantitative reasoning,” meaning that it gets kids thinking about numbers.

    The idea is that adults today need to be able to solve problems. University officials and faculty who came up with the idea in 2016 say they want students who can figure out if they can afford a credit card, determine whether the new furniture will fit into their apartment, understand if they should buy or lease a car and even explain why greenhouse gases cause climate change.

    CSU’s study of its own students says those who learned such skills in high school outperformed those who did not, regardless of ethnicity.”

    Now, what I read between the lines here is that CSU really wants a consumer math program hiding under the glorified name of “quantitative reasoning.”

    Can someone explain to me why does CSU think that a course in consumer math will better prepare students for STEM? I could imagine this for trig., pre-calc. or calc. But for shopkeeper math?

    Replies

    • Bo Loney 2 months ago2 months ago

      They are trying to teach the way mathematically gifted minds work preparing students for the technological age. It's not a bad thing. But it's yet to be seen if it will have any effect. Some people can't stand math. I am one of them. No matter what the initiative, you could never make me love math. I'd rather throw the math book at the wall. But I know people that … Read More

      They are trying to teach the way mathematically gifted minds work preparing students for the technological age. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s yet to be seen if it will have any effect.

      Some people can’t stand math. I am one of them. No matter what the initiative, you could never make me love math. I’d rather throw the math book at the wall. But I know people that absolutely love math. Eventually, we are going to miss the artisans that can create with their hands as well. It seems we cannot just balance skills and make a lucrative place for all talents and gifts.

  3. el 2 months ago2 months ago

    Although I fully prefer that every HS student take 4 years of math, I'm not in favor of CSU adding this requirement when UC has not found it to be necessary. I suspect that the correlation they find between success and 4 years of math in HS is not causal, but rather indicative of other differences in those students, It appalls me that people are saying and arguing that there are high schools where students … Read More

    Although I fully prefer that every HS student take 4 years of math, I’m not in favor of CSU adding this requirement when UC has not found it to be necessary. I suspect that the correlation they find between success and 4 years of math in HS is not causal, but rather indicative of other differences in those students,

    It appalls me that people are saying and arguing that there are high schools where students do not have the opportunity to take 4 years of math. That to me seems like a much bigger problem and one we can and should compel those high schools to solve. I have seen schools creatively address advanced math tracks by combining classes, using online tools, or even online community college resources. There’s really no excuse for not offering a fourth year of meaningful math to any student who wants it.

  4. Bo Loney 2 months ago2 months ago

    The report from the CSU data linked in this article states that every single high school in California currently offers at least one course that would meet the quantitative reasoning requirement. They just need to make sure there is enough room for every student to take the course. I want to ask is there not enough room because there has not been enough interest in that particular class?

  5. Gurminder Sangha 2 months ago2 months ago

    Upon reading this article I feel that the assumptions made by intellectuals is inherently flawed i.e. that "Black and Latino" students are not capable of learning mathematics thus can't be successful in STEM fields. This type of mindset needs to change. Students are capable of learning anything, as long as our society believes in them. I am positive that the parents of "Blacks and Latinos" don't think that their children are inherently inferior to any … Read More

    Upon reading this article I feel that the assumptions made by intellectuals is inherently flawed i.e. that “Black and Latino” students are not capable of learning mathematics thus can’t be successful in STEM fields. This type of mindset needs to change. Students are capable of learning anything, as long as our society believes in them. I am positive that the parents of “Blacks and Latinos” don’t think that their children are inherently inferior to any other group and are fully capable of achieving success in anything they are intrinsically motivated to do.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 2 months ago2 months ago

      Gurminder, the advocates who spoke agree with you. They were arguing that schools with underrepresented students are struggling to find qualified teachers and the resources for additional courses that would be needed to meet the proposed requirement. They weren’t saying that students lacked the capability for STEM or any subject.