March 2024

Data Science Under Fire: What Math Do High Schoolers Really Need?

The Hechinger Report
Data Science Under Fire: What Math Do High Schoolers Really Need?

Founder and Executive Director Pamela Burdman was quoted by The Hechinger Report in an article examining the role of high school data science courses as a substitution or addition to traditionally required advanced mathematics. The article was also featured in The Washington Post.

California has been at the center of a heated debate over what math knowledge students really need to succeed in college and careers. With math scores falling nationwide, some educators have argued that the standard algebra-intensive math pathway is outdated and needs a revamp, both to engage more students and to help them develop relevant skills in a world increasingly reliant on data. At least 17 states now offer data science (an interdisciplinary field that combines computer programming, math and statistics) as a high school math option, according to the group Data Science for Everyone. Two states—Oregon and Ohio—offer it as an alternative to Algebra II. 

Pamela Burdman points to data showing that many students who take Algebra II in high school learn little. She said emerging research suggests that courses like data science could have “more potential for bringing students into STEM” than the traditional preparatory math courses.

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