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Record-high number of SFUSD students enrolled in higher level math

Press Release

More San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) high school students are taking higher level math classes than ever before under the new secondary course sequence, and the students who are taking those classes are more diverse, according to math enrollment data.

The class of 2019 is the first cohort of students who experienced high school math under Board Policy 6152.1, Math Course Sequence. The San Francisco Board of Education adopted the new math sequence in 2014, which aligns with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and provides a thoughtful progression of content from algebra, geometry and statistics.

The data show 456 additional students — a 10.4% increase from the year prior — are taking courses beyond Algebra 2 in the 2018-19 school year.  The 4,660 students enrolled in courses beyond Algebra 2 this school year represents 29.8% of all students enrolled in comprehensive high schools in the SFUSD, up from 27% for the class of 2017-2018, when 4,204 students accessed higher level math courses.

The students who are taking those classes are more diverse than in previous years. This school year there is a 34.7% increase in African American students taking courses beyond Algebra 2; a 32.7% increase in Filipino students; a 20.1% increase in Latino students; a 25.2% increase in Pacific Islander students; and a 16.7% increase in white students. Additionally, there is a 31.6% increase in English Language Learners; a 10% increase in students with an Individual Education Program (IEP); and a 11.9% increase in students who qualify for free and reduced price lunches.

“We are extremely encouraged by these data, which show that many more students from all backgrounds are enrolled in higher level math courses today, ” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “We know that families have been asking if their children can still get into advanced math courses in high school under the course sequence we began implementing four years ago. With these data, we can confidently say that not only can our students access higher level math, they are accessing it.”

The number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) math courses has also increased 5.9%, over a two-year period from 2016–2017 to 2018–2019. Specifically, AP Statistics enrollment has increased 48.4% while AP Calculus enrollment has declined by 12.9% over the same two-year period. Statistics is woven more purposefully throughout the Common Core, and the increase in enrollment reflects a greater need for statistical literacy across more careers.  A de-emphasis in Calculus is consistent with UC and Stanford admissions’ guidance.

SFUSD’s graduation requirements correspond to the University of California’s a–g requirements, which include completing three years of math during high school. The first three years of high school math in the Common Core’s traditional sequence are Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2.

Any course beyond Algebra 2 surpasses the A–G requirements. In SFUSD, students have many options for a fourth year of math, including Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus and AP Statistics. There are also many ways to reach a fourth year of math, including choosing to take a “compression” course that combines Algebra 2 and Precalculus in 11th grade; choosing to “double up” on math during 9th or 10th grade; or taking a summer Geometry course between 9th and 10th grades.  

Research shows that students who complete a fourth year math course in their senior year are far more likely to find success in college.

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Page updated on 01/04/19