March 2023

‘A Bankrupt Concept of Math’: Some Educators Argue Calculus Should Be Dethroned

The 74
‘A Bankrupt Concept of Math’: Some Educators Argue Calculus Should Be Dethroned

Just Equations National Policy Director Melodie Baker is quoted in this piece for The 74 about the role of Calculus in college admissions. Baker explains why the rush to Calculus is unnecessary and notes how it serves as an obstacle that keeps students out of STEM fields.

Successful completion of high school calculus has long been an unofficial must-have for those seeking admission to the nation’s top colleges: The course has, for decades, served as a signal to admissions officers that a student’s coursework has been robust.

But some in education say it’s time to reconsider this de facto requirement: Many schools — particularly those serving large numbers of Black, Hispanic or low-income students — don’t offer the course. And even when they do, it’s of dubious value, they say…

“A background in calculus is certainly helpful — and many colleges do expect it for students pursuing STEM degrees — but research shows that deeper mastery of prerequisites for calculus is more important than calculus itself,” Baker said. “High school students should not rush through the curriculum to take the course. And even most selective colleges can support students who didn’t have access to calculus in high school.”

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