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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Darning socks, shorthand, algebra

Selective colleges should stop expecting top students to take calculus, argues Scott White in Forbes. I was with him that far. My daughter took AP Calc because the college counselor told she had to, not because she had the slightest interest in math or science.

But then White suggests that most students can take an easier path because the jobs of the future will require data literacy and statistics. He cites Jo Boaler, a Stanford math education professor, who says a study found "only 12% of professionals use algebra, trigonometry or calculus regularly and only 2% use calculus."

She's pushed California to adopt new math guidelines that stress data analysis, and says "most of Algebra II is as irrelevant as "sock darning and shorthand."

Math professors, and data scientists, disagree, saying that replacing Algebra II with data literacy classes will close the doors to college-level math, science, engineering -- and data science -- majors.

There are lots of high-paying opportunities for people who can do math, writes Hechinger's Jon Marcus. "Every one of the 25 highest-paying college majors are in STEM fields."

"Yet math scores among American students — which had been stagnant for more than a decade, according to the National Science Foundation — are now getting worse."

Only around one in five graduate students in math-intensive subjects including computer science and electrical engineering at U.S. universities are American, the National Foundation for American Policy reports.

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