Rural School Districts See 24% Drop in
Students Taking Algebra II
Study on the Impact of Texas' New Weakened Graduation Requirements in HB5 Released by IDRA

Ready Texas report webpage
San Antonio (June 7, 2018)
- The class of 2018 is the first to graduate under the new graduation requirements put in place in 2013 by the Texas legislature. Many advocates raised concerns that lowering graduation requirements could possibly affect college readiness and preparation. 

With funding from the Greater Texas Foundation, IDRA conducted a mixed method study to examine the early effects of the new graduation requirements. Key findings show:
  • Rural districts lost 24 percent in Algebra II course enrollments.
  • Forty-five districts studied chose to require the "distinguished level of achievement" designation as part of their default graduation plan for their students, thereby mirroring the previous graduation requirements. Losses in Algebra II course enrollment are less pronounced among these districts.
  • Students in high-poverty schools are more likely to declare non-college bound endorsements than students in low-poverty schools. (While no endorsement path is set up specifically to prepare students for college, the multidisciplinary studies and STEM endorsements are described as most likely to do so.)
  • Students and parents interviewed perceive that there are no real-life counterparts to endorsements.
  • Most counselors were concerned that endorsements may derail students' college plans because they often are seen equally as important to college preparatory coursework. Counselors reported having to consistently emphasize coursework over endorsements, especially for high-achieving students.
Ready Texas infographic
Taking Algebra II, at a minimum, is required to best prepare students for college, and it is a requirement to be eligible for the Texas Top Ten Percent Plan for automatic admission in Texas public universities. 

Before HB5, most Texas students graduated with at least Algebra II. And 80 percent of students graduated with a plan that provided courses required by most institutions of higher education. 

E3 Alliance found that students who took Algebra II, regardless of socio-economic background, remained and succeeded in college at higher rates than students who did not take Algebra II.
"A vital Texas must have educational parity for all Texans and not parcel out one set of opportunities for some and minimal expectations for others," said Dr. María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel , IDRA president and CEO. " The research and decades of experience behind IDRA's Quality School Action Framework, show that a high-quality curriculum is essential to success for all students for them to reach a true level of college readiness. Our state must take responsibility for the academic success of all students."
"As an organization focused on postsecondary success for Texas students, we know a student's math trajectory is critically important," said Sue McMillin, President & CEO of Greater Texas Foundation. "This report by IDRA is an important early indicator of the academic impact of Texas's new graduation requirements, particularly for rural students. We should be paying attention and work together at all levels - state to communities to schools - to ensure we are providing students the opportunities, supports, systems, and resources for success."

College Bound and Determined cover
IDRA released a report, College Bound and Determined, in February 2014 showing  how  on e south Texas school district transformed itself from low achievement and low expectations to planning for all students to graduate from high school and college. The result was a school district that doubled its number of high school graduates, cut dropout rates in half and increased college-going rates. Half of the district's students are earning college credit while still in high school.
Courage to Connect cover
IDRA's Quality School Action Framework™ guides communities and schools in identifying weak areas and strengthening public schools' capacities to graduate and prepare all students for success. IDRA's book, Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to be successful with all of their students.

*The new policy (HB5), lowered graduation requirements for mathematics, science and social studies; implemented a new graduation requirement for career readiness, called endorsements; and added a "distinguished level of achievement" designation that closely resembles the previous graduation requirements.
Infographic_ Ready Texas part A
Infographic_ Ready Texas Part B
Infographic_ Ready Texas Part C
Infographic_ Ready Texas Part D
Full Study and Excerpts
Podcast Episodes

Link to Ready Texas Study of New Graduation Requirements _ Podcast Episode 178
Classnotes Podcast 178
In 2013, Texas lowered graduation requirements for math, science and social studies. Lead researcher, Hector Bojorquez, gives a highlights of IDRA's study on the impact and shares implications for potential similar changes in other states.

Link to Why Algebra II podcast
Classnotes Podcast 133
Math educator, Paula Johnson, M.A., talks about why Algebra II is critical for all students and, particularly, for low-income and minority students who will undoubtedly suffer the consequences of being sidelined into watered-down, non-college prep courses..
Slideshow for Parents

Slideshow cover
See what parents need to look out for and how to make sure students take the courses they need to be prepared for college and career. See our bilingual slideshow:  What Parents Need to Know about Texas Graduation Requirements  (English-Spanish).

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June 7, 2018
The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent, non-profit organization. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs.

We are committed to the IDRA valuing philosophy, respecting the knowledge and skills of the individuals we work with and build on the strengths of the students and parents in their schools.