Todays Kentucky sixth graders dont know it, but they are going to be far better prepared for college and careers than their older brothers and sisters.
When those sixth graders graduate from high school in 2012, they will have studied math each of their high school years.
That is if the State Board of Education follows through, perhaps next month, on a proposal discussed here last week to increase the high school math requirement to four credits, including Algebra II, for graduates in 2012. Todays high school graduates need only study Algebra I, Geometry and a third elective math course.
Why the need for another math course in high school?
State Education Commission Gene Wilhoit called the increased requirement a commitment to Kentucky parents by educators. Were preparing their children for success in life.
Were living in an ever more sophisticated technological world, and those without a solid foundation in math and the analytical skills that come with math study will be left adrift no matter whether they go on to college or enter the workforce directly from high school.
And if Kentuckys system of higher education is to meet the challenge of excellence by 2020, particularly the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, it must begin receiving freshmen with a solid foundation in math that todays high school curriculum simply does not provide them.
Indeed, we are surprised the states universities, community and technical colleges havent demanded an expanded high school math curriculum long ago. Certainly, that expanded curriculum will be critical to producing a new generation of math teachers for Kentuckys high schools.
In the meantime, the states elementary and middle schools would be doing a great service to their current students by improving their math studies in anticipation of the new four-year high school math curriculum.
In that way, all students will benefit, and that commitment Wilhoit spoke of will be met.