Three years ago, Kyle Jones had a D in high school algebra, and he
wasn’t particularly bothered by it.
But Kyle’s approach to his studies changed with a California law
that requires all high school students, starting with the class of
2004, to complete algebra I in order to graduate.
The law, passed in 2000, applies to all students, including
special-education students, English learners and students enrolled in
Kyle, a John Burroughs High School senior, is now earning an A+ in
his second year of a two-year algebra course offered at the school to
students who struggle with the subject.
“I was just being lazy when I took algebra the first time,” said
Kyle, 17. “I’m trying harder now, because I want to go to college,
probably junior college at first. I think I can handle it.
“When I was a freshman, I wasn’t aware of college requirements and
stuff like that. Now I realize I have a lot ahead of me. I think the
[algebra graduation requirement] is fair.”
For the Burbank and Glendale unified school districts, algebra as
a high school graduation requirement is nothing new.
Burbank’s school board voted in 2001 to require algebra as a
graduation requirement. Glendale’s school board voted in 1997 to
require all of its students to take algebra and geometry in order to
Both districts have since implemented two-year algebra programs
and extra tutoring for students who need more time and personal
attention in understanding algebraic concepts. Burbank students who
meet the algebra requirement and want to take more classes can take
geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus and Advanced Placement calculus,
District officials in both cities said the state’s algebra
requirement is good for students, because it prepares them better for
college and holds them to higher academic standards.
“It’s making math more rigorous,” said Sharon Cuseo, assistant
principal at John Burroughs High School. “Middle schools have made
changes, too. They are offering algebra as early as seventh grade.”