November 7, 2023
High School Math Policies

Postscript on Misinformation

Pamela Burdman
Postscript on Misinformation

Some readers have misconstrued the comments about irresponsible admission-policy leaks in my latest blog

To clarify, I was referencing then-private information about nonactionable decisions—including selective mentions of specific data science courses—that was shared anonymously with news organizations.

Why wasn’t this information about data science courses public? The University of California’s faculty-led Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) is not subject to the state’s public meeting requirements. Its decisions are not public until its minutes are posted, which typically takes a month or more. 

BOARS sets policy directions, but detailed guidance for the public about how specific policies are implemented typically comes from the UC Office of the President, as has been the case in the 27 years I have followed BOARS as a journalist and policy analyst. 

Not only was BOARS’ July 7 vote about data science courses not immediately public, it also wasn’t clearly actionable, because it appeared to disqualify courses based on their titles, as opposed to their content, as discussed in my July blog. The leaked information, preceding any operational guidance from UC staff or transparent criteria from a work group BOARS was forming for that purpose, thus, was confusing and incomplete.

BOARS held an additional meeting two weeks later—the first time in recorded BOARS history that it has held more than ten meetings in a year—partially to clear up the confusion. The minutes (which were posted in early August along with the minutes from the July 7 meeting) specified the need for courses to have an Algebra II prerequisite but again implied that this requirement pertained only to courses labeled “data science.”

The minutes intentionally avoided naming specific courses, noting that doing so would “not set good policymaking precedent.” In fact, BOARS doesn’t approve or reject specific courses. Nevertheless, the July leaks singled out specific courses by name. 

The minutes further noted that determining which courses would qualify under BOARS’ new intentions required “updated content criteria,” lest staff would need to review courses based on a keyword search. One can only hope the work group will develop those criteria and that such criteria will apply to all courses—including statistics and computer science. 

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