Nine states will use a common Algebra II exam, ensuring that standards don’t vary. Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are the first states to sign on. All are part of Achieve’s ADP Network, which is trying to raise and standardize expectations.
Students typically take Algebra II in high school after taking a basic algebra course and geometry. Research has shown that students who complete Algebra II are much more likely to go on to earn a college degree. That has prompted more and more states to require the course for graduation for most of their students.
Students who passed Algebra II in high school “more than doubled their chances of earning a four-year college degree,” Achieve says, citing two Education Department studies.
But requiring all or most students to take Algebra II creates pressure to lower standards, so the weaker students can pass. The common test will set high standards. I predict states that use it will decide that Algebra II shouldn’t be a graduation requirement.