Algebra II Still Holds Importance for Students, Say Educators
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 17, 2014 – As a result of legislation adopted by the Texas Legislature during last year’s 83rd regular session, the State Board of Education recently removed Algebra II as a required course to earn a high school diploma to give students more academic flexibility.
“Eliminating Algebra II from their mandatory course load is just a temporary escape until they graduate from high school and then they have to face university mathematics courses even if it is a basic course as college Algebra,” said Shaghayegh Setayesh, a Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology, whose area of specialization is Algebra.
Students will be required to take Algebra II if they want a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics endorsement for their high school diploma. Also, students must take Algebra II if they are in the top 10 percent of their graduating class and want automatic admission to a Texas public university.
Jacqueline Del Castillo, 25, is in her first year teaching mathematics at Brownsville’s Rivera High School. She said working with University of Texas at Brownsville students as a mathematics tutor for two years through Upward Bound and the Department of Mathematics inspired her to pursue teaching as a career.
Alumni Jacqueline Del Castillo
“When I took Algebra II I was a freshman at Lopez High School since I had taken Algebra I in eighth grade,” she said. “I was not planning on studying mathematics at UTB, but not knowing what to study, I decided to study the subject that I understood and enjoyed the most. The first mathematics course I took at UTB was Calculus II and although I was not prepared for it, having taken Algebra II helped me when working with polynomials or when simplifying exponents with the use of its properties.”
She can see the struggles some juniors have understanding the square roots and hyperbolas she teaches in her Algebra II class.
“Sometimes I have students that aren’t trying and then they try it more and they get it,” said Del Castillo, a 2012 graduate of The University of Texas at Brownsville with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and psychology and a master’s degree in mathematics. “I like seeing them progress with their work. Some prefer to do their work by hand and see their mistakes and they are having more control over what they are learning.”