The pressure on high school students to excel in calculus to appear more competitive to college admissions officers widens already existing inequities for underrepresented students who may not have access to a calculus course.
Integral Voices: Examining Math Experiences of Underrepresented Students, a new report by Just Equations, examines student experiences and the mixed messages they receive about high school math courses they need as they look ahead to college and future careers.
The students—largely Black, Latinx, low income, or the first generation in their family to attend college—paint a powerful picture of how the current disparity of information and options in high school affects their postsecondary planning and their college and career opportunities. From an overemphasis on the necessity of calculus for college admissions to a lack of counseling and limited clarity on which rigorous math courses are important for STEM and non-STEM majors alike, the students need clear communication and transparent requirements to plan their futures successfully.
“There was like this major rush to get into AP Calculus like your junior year,” said one student. “So in order to do that people were taking a lot of math classes over the summer. Personally, I took geometry and Algebra II in just one summer to hopefully catch up to meet that goal.”
For more insights on the role of math in ensuring educational equity, subscribe to Just Equations’ newsletter.