Frequently Asked Questions

​ Why is C​​SU considering changing admissions requirement?

Research, as well as CSU data, has shown that academic preparation supports greater student success. Quantitative reasoning is one example of academic preparation. Specifically, quantitative reasoning builds skills in measurement, design, capacity and probability, skills that support success in college and in the 21st century workforce.

Additional preparation in quantitative reasoning expands opportunities for all students - especially underrepresented minority students (URM) - to pursue degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. Participation by underrepresented minority students in these fields is sorely lacking.

What is the quantitative reasoni​ng requirement proposal?

The CSU Board of Trustees passed a resolution in January 2020 articulating possible guidelines to include an additional course in quantitative reasoning as part of current “a-g" admission requirements. The guidelines provide a set of criteria that would need to be met prior to the approval of changing the existing “a-g" requirements, which determine minimum eligibility for admission to a CSU campus.

What are the Board of Trustees ​​set of criteria regarding this requirement?

They are:

  • A third-party independent analysis of the planned implementation and potential impact of the proposed requirement on high school students' application to the CSU;
  • The progress of doubling STEM qualified teachers annually prepared by the CSU;
  • Clarity of the charge, role and composition of a steering committee that reports to the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs;
  • Clarity on exemptions for students whose public schools do not provide sufficient courses; and
  • The progress on increasing outreach and awareness of the proposed requirement with schools, counselors

When is the p​​roposed date of implementation?

The proposed requirement would be in effect for incoming students in fall 2027.

How​​​ can students meet this requirement?

There are multiple pathways for high school students to meet this requirement, including: an additional mathematics course beyond Algebra II, a laboratory science course or a quantitative reasoning-based elective such as computer science, coding or personal finance.

Who ​​has the CSU consulted regarding this proposal?

The CSU has consulted with a wide range of stakeholders since the Academic Senate of the CSU – the official faculty voice in the CSU in matters of curriculum – convened a Quantitative Reasoning Task Force in 2016. After the Academic Senate released a report in August 2016 recommending an additional course in high school quantitative reasoning, the CSU has been in continuous conversations with individuals and organizations representing a diverse group of educational, government and community partners.

Is this a f​​ourth year of math?

​No, this is one additional course to meet “a-g" admission requirements. It could be fulfilled at any time during high school.

What saf​ety valves are in place for students in districts that cannot meet this requirement in time?

Any student who is eligible for the CSU, but who cannot fulfill the new requirement due to a lack of resources and/or course availability at their high school, will be provided an exemption. This is part of the overriding objective to first do no harm. The CSU intends to partner with the University of California and the California Department of Education to automate the exemption for students from schools with limited qualifying course offerings, reducing the burden on students to seek out the exemption.

Are there ex​​amples where a similar requirement has improved student achievement?

Yes, similar changes have already taken place in a California school district and are being considered in others. If we look at the 20 largest school districts in California, more than one-third have high school graduation requirements that align – or will align – with the CSU quantitative reasoning proposal. This includes 4 of the 5 largest districts in the state.

The Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) – where 70 percent of students are in poverty and 86 percent at non-white – increased the quantitative reasoning requirement six years ago to improve college readiness. Prior to changing the requirement, just 39 percent of students met the “a-g" requirements for admission to the CSU. Today, 56 percent of students meet the “a-g" requirements, and the district's African American and Latino students graduate at higher percentages compared to their peers in the county and across the state. Despite early opposition to the change and concern that underserved students would be disadvantaged, the outcomes have demonstrated the opposite. Students of color in LBUSD are graduating and attending college at higher rates due to better quantitative reasoning preparation.

In 2011, the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education adopted new, more rigorous graduation requirements that align with the district's mission. The district is the second largest in California with more than 124,000 students, of which 23 percent are English Language Learners, 59 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch and 77 percent are non-white. The new requirements include specific high school courses that are aligned to the minimum subject-area course requirements for CSU and University of California (UC) admission and are aligned to the California Next Generation Science Standards. Students fulfilling the high school graduation requirements in the San Diego Unified School District will have satisfied the CSU's proposed quantitative reasoning requirement without any additional coursework.​

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