Back to School

Students make their way across the Cal State Bakersfield campus during the first day of school.

When Mark Owen, a freshman nursing major at Cal State Bakersfield, started his statistics course this semester, he didn't feel as prepared as he would have liked.

"I don't actually like math, it's just required to do it," Owen said.

He took two years of mathematics at South High School — with an additional year as a student in the Philippines — but he quickly realized he would have benefited from additional courses.

"I wish I took more math classes before so I could have more knowledge and feel better prepared," he said.

Several other students feel the same way as Owen. As a result, the CSU system is investigating a proposal to add one year of quantitative reasoning coursework to the "a-g" subject admission requirements.

Currently, prospective CSU students must complete 15 years of comprehensive college preparatory coursework, known as "a-g," which includes one year of a college preparatory elective.

The proposal would require students to take an additional elective in the form of a mathematics, science or elective course that has a quantitative reasoning foundation. Subjects could include computer science, coding, engineering, statistics and personal finance.

The CSU Board of Trustees will vote on the proposal in November and it would go into effect in 2026 if passed.

Vernon B. Harper Jr., CSUB interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, said requiring an additional quantitative reasoning course helps better prepare students for their first-year coursework.

"One of the real predictors, the strongest predictors, of how students proceed through the matriculations of the university and ultimate graduation is how they do in their first-year quantitative reasoning course, or what we refer to as their first-year math course," Harper said. "What we know is that the recency of those skills and how recent those skills are practiced has a strong correlation as to how they’re going to do in that first semester first-year math course."

Prospective CSU students must complete at least three years of mathematics to be considered for admission, although four years are recommended. Kern High School District students are also required to take 30 credits of mathematics in order to graduate, which equates to three years.

If students choose to only take three years of mathematics and skip out on it during their senior year, they would not have the recency of skills, Harper explained, that would help them when it comes time to take a quantitative reasoning course in college.

"They’re going about 18 months without being in said course, without practicing those skills, and we all know intrinsically in our lives, practically in our lives, anecdotally in our own lives, that the more we practice something the better we become," Harper said. "The lack of practice is a very strong element in the struggle that many students have in their first quantitative reasoning courses."

Several students currently enrolled in CSUB believe prospective students would benefit from taking an additional math course in high school.

"Some students aren't caught up by the time they get to college," said Joanna Lopez, a freshman business administration major. She took mathematics all four years at Frazier Mountain High School and feels confident about her statistics course later this school year.

Freshman nursing major Stephanie Ayala agrees that taking mathematics throughout her time at East Bakersfield High School made her feel ready to take on college coursework.

"If I didn't take math all four years I wouldn't have felt prepared for my statistics class," she said.

Opponents to the proposal believe many high schools do not have enough resources or teachers to provide additional courses, giving students a disadvantage to complete the requirement. However, Harper stands behind the proposal because the CSU system will implement the changes in seven years, giving school districts time to create those quantitative reasoning courses.

CSU’s Board of Trustees Committee on Educational Policy also said during a meeting Tuesday that no students would be prevented from attending CSU because they can’t access the required courses, according to EdSource.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

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