CSU proposes increased math requirement for high schoolers


High school students may need to take an extra year of math coursework to qualify for admission into California State Universities. The proposal will be formally introduced to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 24, and could go into effect in 2026.

CSU originally introduced the proposal in 2016 to increase the existing career and technology education requirement by one class, requiring students to take another math, science or computer class. 

CSU will invest $10 million to prepare teachers who teach in science, technology, engineering and math related courses. Critics have said that this proposal will affect low-income students of color.  

On average high school students take about 20 courses during their four years. The current requirement for high school students who want to attend a CSU or University of California is: “ four English; three math; two each of social science, laboratory science and a foreign language; one in the arts, and another of their choosing from the above list,” according to the California State University. The required courses add up to 15 but with the proposal it will go up to 16. 

In a letter sent to the California State University Board of Trustees on July 22, 50 student advocacy groups stated their opposition to changing the requirement as not necessary or an efficient way to remove existing barriers. 

“Unfortunately, CSU still has not provided compelling evidence to demonstrate that its proposal would not have a disparate impact in further constraining access to the CSU system,” the letter stated. The letter was signed by Education Trust-West among others.

According to a report from the Research Triangle Institute, socioeconomically disadvantaged students, students of all racial and ethnic subgroups and students in rural areas of California would experience a drop in eligibility once the proposal goes into effect. 

“Most California high school students could struggle to meet the more rigorous requirements thereby putting university eligibility further out of reach for these students,” the report stated. 

At a public hearing for the proposal on Aug. 29 by the educational committee for the CSU Board of Trustees, Assistant Vice Chancellor and senior academic strategist, James Minor, refuted the arguments of those opposed to the proposal.

“If the opponents of this proposal are suggesting that the best way to serve students of color and those attending under-resourced schools is to do the same as we’ve been doing for 30 years, I’m completely boggled by that,” said Minor.

Once the proposal was made public, students have come out to express their opinions. Many agree that the proposal could be beneficial. 

“I think it’s fair,” said Marvin Del Rea-Eribe, a senior at Newark Memorial High School. “It proves that you are committed on going to college because you want to get a degree, the effort that you put in high school will direct you to the future you want to live.” 

Others expressed their concerns and skepticism about the proposal. 

“If they’re going to follow through with the proposal the required GE classes for college should be less,” said Xena Garbielie Manalaysay, a BECA major at SF State. Chalyna Joy Soriana, a Microbiology major at SF State said she thinks taking four years of math would not benefit high school students. 

“Requiring students to take four years of math does not guarantee that they would retain the information those four years.” 

The CSU Board of Trustees will vote on the proposal Nov. 19-20. 


Correction Sept 16, 2019. The third paragraph originally read as “Schools would need to spend $10 million to prepare teachers who teach in science, technology, engineering and math related courses”. It has been changed to “CSU will invest $10 million to prepare teachers who teach in science, technology, engineering and math related courses. “