Study: Texas High Schoolers Who Skip Out on Advanced Math Less Likely to Get Degrees

Dec 3, 2015

Texas no longer requires students to take Algebra II to graduate, but new research from a local non-profit finds that when Central Texas students don’t take advanced math courses, they’re less likely to get a post-graduate degree within six years.

The data also show that Algebra II may not be enough.


Bar graph representing the correlation between Texas students' high school math completion level and enrollment in higher education programs.
Credit Graph Courtesy of E3 Alliance
Bar graph representing the correlation between Texas high schoolers' math completion level and successful graduation from a higher education program.
Credit Graph Courtesy of E3 Alliance

According to Susan Dawson with E3 Alliance, the non-profit that conducted the research, Central Texas students who complete Algebra II have a better chance of making it to college. But they only have a 20 percent chance of getting a post-secondary degree or certification in six years.

“That’s pretty surprising to us, and shocking. It tells us that students and families, that taking more math is correlated to much greater outcomes to college and career and life.”

A students’ chances of completing college more than doubles if they also take pre-calculus and triples when students take Advanced Placement math courses. Wynn Rosser is the president of the Texas Greater Foundation, which funds math education research and programs.

“There are three things that predict post-secondary completion broadly: family income, parental education and rigor of the high school experience. And the rigor of the high school experience is the only thing we can control at the state and local levels. So really it’s how we ensure that all high school students have that rigorous high school experience.”

While the state does not require advanced math courses for graduation, many school districts, including Austin ISD, chose to require students to take four years of math.