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Vermont's Governor Calls for Mandating Algebra, Geometry

High school students in Vermont will have to take Algebra 1 and geometry to graduate, if the governor and state education commissioner have their way.

The new proposals, which must be approved by the state board of education, would kick in this fall, with 9th graders taking Algebra 1 and sophomores geometry.

"Vermont students must be prepared for college and jobs like automobile mechanics that now require additional math training," Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a press release issued today.

The governor and education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca also will ask the state board to study and consider the idea of making Algebra 2 a requirement beginning with the class of 2017, the press release says. Further, they want the board to review the need to make physics and chemistry required in future years.

Most of the state's public schools currently require three years of math to graduate, but do not specify geometry or algebra, the press release says. Currently, 47 percent of the state's public high schools require Algebra 1, 31 percent require geometry, and 13 percent require Algebra 2.

The news comes as the U.S. Department of Education this week released new data collected from the office for civil rights on STEM coursetaking, among a variety of other issues. That data, accounting for about 85 percent of public school students across the nation, show some racial and ethnic disparities in access to higher-level math and science courses.

For example, calculus, Algebra 2, and physics were less readily available in schools serving high concentrations of black and Hispanic high schools than at those campuses with few students from those minority groups.

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