Greater Equity in Higher Education Through Math Opportunity

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Every student – regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, or their socioeconomic background – deserves a fair shot and the resources to pursue a college education that can transform their lives.

The Campaign for College Opportunity and Just Equations are proud to release Greater Equity in Higher Education Through Math Opportunity as part of our Affirming Equity, Ensuring Inclusion, and Empowering Action initiative. This publication examines how math requirements, such as calculus, can serve as unfair gatekeepers of college access and preparation, disproportionately impacting historically underserved students.

“If education is the great equalizer in this country, then mathematics might be the great divider.”
Pamela Burdman and Melodie Baker of Just Equations
Greater Equity in Higher Education Through Math Opportunity

Indeed, a startling 47% of high schools do not offer any form of calculus, and surveys further indicate that high school counselors are less likely to recommend any advanced math courses to Latinx and Black students. Even so, calculus is the gold standard in college admissions, often called a ‘covert’ requirement despite not being necessary for many students and their majors of interest.

This brief urges college, university, and K-12 leaders to dismantle the structures that preserve privilege and exclude some from opportunity by rethinking arbitrary math requirements, evaluating students’ math course taking through a holistic approach, building intentional and active recruitment pipelines, and more.