New USM Admissions Policy: Four Years of High School Math

The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents in December 2009 approved a new academic policy that requires incoming freshman undergraduates to have completed four years of high school math. The requirement applies to student applicants who entered ninth grade in fall 2011.

The purpose of these requirements is to keep students' mathematics skills ready for college-level requirements.

The coursework must include Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. Students who complete Algebra II before their senior year must also complete the fourth-year-math requirement. They can do so by taking a course during their senior year that is intensive in algebra and expands on algebra foundations developed during Algebra II.

The USM expects that the requirement of an "algebra intensive" math in the final year of high school enrollment will improve the preparation of students to successfully complete college-level mathematics.

Based upon various educational studies regarding mathematics proficiency, the USM anticipates that the number of students who require remediation will decrease. Therefore, fewer students will require the time-consuming step of completing remedial math courses before taking math classes for credit to their degree.

During the summer of 2009, a committee comprising faculty, admissions and enrollment management professionals from the Maryland State Department of Education was established to make recommendations for revisions to the Board of Regents policy on undergraduate admissions. These revisions were sought to better align high school students with the preparation necessary to succeed at USM institutions.

The Review of USM undergraduate policies developed in part from a report, "Coming to Our Senses," issued by the College Board's Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education. USM Chancellor William E. "Brit" Kirwan chairs the commission.

The report defined an ambitious goal of ensuring that least 55 percent of Americans hold a postsecondary degree by 2025. Toward that goal, the commission recommended a 10-part action agenda that included aligning kindergarten-through-12th-grade students with "international standards and college admissions expectations -- so that all students are prepared for future college, work and life."

The proposed revisions were widely disseminated among provosts at USM institutions, student affairs vice presidents, faculty, and numerous stakeholders within the state's K-12 education community.

The proposed revisions were reviewed first by the Board of Regents Committee on Education Policy at its November 2009 meeting before being approved by the Board of Regents Committee of the Whole in December 2009 for implementation in Fall 2011.

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719