Should algebra 2 be a graduation requirement?

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It’s been 10 years since Michigan added Algebra II to its graduation requirements. This has caused many seniors to become off track and spend another year in high school for no real reason.

Algebra II has caused many students more problems than benefits when it comes to graduating, especially to teens involved in extracurriculars or working teens.  Donovan Golden, a junior basketball player, said the extreme workload caused him to stay up late, making it harder to focus in class the next day. “The main challenge was staying focused in the class especially with balancing sports with academics. My class was in the morning, it was hard to stay awake. There was homework every night, and I still didn’t learn anything.” he said.

Along with Algebra II being a struggle because of the workload, it’s a sequential class, meaning the lessons use skills that are supposed to be mastered in previous chapters or sometimes previous years of education. This can cause students to struggle even more; if students don’t understand a previous concept, they won’t be able to understand the future topics causing them to fail the class. This is a big problem for homeschooled students or students who decide to take the class online because they don’t have a teacher they can go to and receive actual help from. Senior Kit Speer explains how she took the class online last year, but has to repeat it again because she failed the second semester. “I passed the first semester with a D, and failed the second. Instead of making me redo the second semester the school is making me redo the whole class and it still barely makes sense,” she said.  Luckily it was Speer’s junior year instead of her senior year because failing the second semester could have caused her to have to spend another year in high school.

Algebra II is not necessary or used in adult life so students should not have to struggle to take the class. Will Sanchez, a Pioneer senior last year who had to work to support his immigrant family, as well as go to school, explained his struggle with the challenges of Algebra II. “We’re constantly being given formulas which are hard to remember, constantly being thrown homework. Not being allowed time to be able to catch up sometimes,” he said.

Instead of making Algebra II a graduation requirement Pioneer should expose students to other classes that teach them useful skills like money management. A survey done by the investment bank Charles Schwab proved that students would rather learn money management skills  “Among 16- to 18-year-olds, 86 percent said they would rather learn about money management in the classroom than make financial mistakes in the real world” it said. At this point school is just about getting a good grade since we aren’t required to learn skills that will help us in the real world. Junior at Pioneer High School,  Mike Leighton explained how he thinks students should be required to take Money Management class instead of Algebra II “Money management should be required, school has become about passing instead of a learning. I don’t know how to do taxes and I feel like that’s a useful thing to know” he said. Mike also talked about how students are given no explanation and even ridiculed when they are asked how Algebra II will be used in life “I don’t see where Algebra II would fit in. If I was told what I would use it for it would be a different story.” he explained.

Algebra II shouldn’t be a required credit because it holds back students for various reason, when the class doesn’t teach anything that is necessary for life. Students need to learn skills that will help us in our future lives and if we have courses that don’t do that, it disadvantages everyone. Students graduate and go into debt, or have expectations about money that are extremely unrealistic. It also holds back the students who are not naturally gifted at math, which causes many psychological issues with failure. Instead classes like Money Management and Accounting should be required because it opens up many doors to the ‘real world’ and helps prepare students for life.