If you’re confused about the new mathematics graduation options for the HB5 Foundation diploma and endorsement program, you’re not alone. Many school administrators and counselors are still trying to wrap their heads around the possibilities and create meaningful graduation pathways for their students.

### A little bit of background

With 4×4, the former Recommended High School Plan (RHSP), math graduation requirements were much simpler. Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 for all, and then a 4th math choice with Algebra 2 as a prerequisite. Except for the Math Models conundrum, all was well with the world and counselors could very easily keep track of which student had met the requirements.

HB5 changed that. Before HB5, the articulated and enacted philosophy projected from the state level was that all students receiving a diploma in Texas should learn Algebra 2. However, HB5 changed the focus from Algebra 2 to “advanced mathematics” that is germane to a student’s intended career trajectory. Thus, all students are now required to take Algebra 1 and Geometry, and then at least one math course relevant to their intended field of study.

### So how does Algebra 2 fit in?

Good question! Many, if not most, colleges and universities either require or prefer to see Algebra 2 on a student’s high school transcript. Plus, if a student intends to enter college or university directly from high school, they are likely to have college algebra as a degree requirement. For students who may take college algebra, Algebra 2 is pretty much a prerequisite.

Algebra 2 certainly counts as the third “advanced math” credit for the foundation diploma. It also counts as an “advanced math” credit for an endorsement. And, if a student intends to obtain a STEM endorsement, they must take Algebra 2 as well as additional math courses, most of which have Algebra 2 as a prerequisite.

But what about students who do not plan to enter college or university directly from high school? Algebra 2 may be a good idea, but there are also other options. With the change in philosophy away from Algebra 2 for All, we realized pretty quickly that our existing options were built on the idea that all students would take Algebra 2 and that there were very limited, mostly Career and Technical Education (CTE) options that didn’t involve Algebra 2. So, our leaders at the State Board of Education rolled up their sleeves and got to work creating new options for our students.

### New math courses: Algebraic Reasoning and non-AP Statistics

In the mathematics TEKS, (19 TAC Chapter 111), two new courses were created.

Algebraic Reasoning was designed to be a rigorous mathematics course students could take as an alternative to Algebra 2 that could prepare them for non-STEM university-based studies. This pathway was thought of as sort of like Advanced Quantitative Reasoning (AQR) for Precalculus. Algebraic Reasoning can be taught as a course this school year, 2015-16, for advanced math credit on either the foundation diploma or an endorsement.

Statistics was designed as an alternative or as a bridge to AP Statistics. One important difference is that non-AP Statistics requires Algebra 1 as a prerequisite and AP Statistics requires Algebra 2 as a prerequisite. Like Algebraic Reasoning, students taking Statistics can earn either an advanced math credit for the foundation diploma or an endorsement.

It is also worth noting that the State Board of Education amended the graduation requirements for students on the RHSP so that Algebraic Reasoning or Statistics qualifies as the 4th math credit. There are no sequencing requirements regarding Algebraic Reasoning/Statistics and Algebra 2 as Algebra 2 is not a prerequisite for either course.

### What are the new CTE options?

Right now, the current TEKS for CTE are in place and the revised TEKS will be implemented along with instructional materials from Proclamation 2017 in the 2017-18 school year. So for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, the existing CTE options are still in place.

I’ll go through the CTE options in more detail in a future blog post.