Should every student take Algebra 2?

In my recent posts, I addressed the topics:

  • Do the standards require Algebra 2?
  • What can we do for HS students who are not “ready?”

Some educators may think I am in or not in favor of all students taking Algebra 2.  Disclaimer: Algebra 2 is being used to represents a third year HS course of HS standards that are not previously covered in the course sequence. This could also could be Integrated 3.


Before we get to that, lets first consider some “facts” that most educators will agree with.

  • More mathematical understanding will not harm students.
  • The rate of change of the world is greater than today than any other time in history.
  • Students will not need less mathematical understanding for tomorrow’s world than they need for today’s world.
  • There is a correlation between the level of mathematical understanding and the amount of money a person may make in a life time.
  • To truly prepare students for post-secondary success (knowing many will need to re-train), mathematical understanding should not be a barrier.
  • Mathematical understanding is acting like a filter to students out of careers they are interested in.
  • The number of STEM careers are increasing and mathematical understanding should act like a pump for interested students into these careers.
  • There is a correlation between the number of remedial mathematics courses and if a person will finish their program or degree.


We know some things about the current system:

  • It is designed to filter students out who do not have a mathematical understanding of algebra.
  • A student’s understanding of numbers impacts their ability to access and develop algebra understanding.
  • In many districts, the “top” level achievers or two of students are removed from the grade level mathematics instruction and placed in accelerated tracks.
  • The freshman level math course contains students who have previously failed the course and students who are not “top” level achievers.
  • Many students passing freshman mathematics take remedial mathematics post-secondary.
  • Freshman level mathematics course has one of the highest failure rates.

So, let us get back to the question at hand. Should all students take Algebra 2?  Yes!


Here is why:

  • Students who take Algebra 2 will have more access to mathematics instruction than students who do not.
  • Algebra 2 reviews Algebra 1 concepts by applying them to more rigorous content.
  • Students are two years older and there is a big difference between a freshman and a junior.
  • Algebra skills are not post-secondary developed after Algebra 1.
  • A second chance at Algebra will only decrease the number of remedial courses a student will take post-secondary which increases my chances of success.
  • No one really knows what the future looks like and how much mathematics will be needed, what jobs will be, etc.


Finally, what is a better alternative or evidence that there is one yet?