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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Higher Education is offering alternative mathematic courses for graduation requirements.

The initiative is led by the Missouri Math Pathways Task Force. It suggests alternative mathematics courses for public schools to implement into current graduation requirements, which includes completion of college algebra curriculum.

"For many decades now, college algebra has been the default, gateway math course for students," Rusty Monhollon, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs at the MO Department of Higher Education, said. "In case after case, many students don't complete degrees because of the mathematics requirement. That's not to say college algebra is not a worthwhile course. But it should help completions, as students are taking mathematics courses that they see have more relevance to their field of study."

Monhollon said that colleges and universities will have the final say on whether they will implement alternative math classes. He also said that each public institution throughout the state has had a representative in the task force to create math pathways. 

"This is not a mandate from the state," Monhollon said. "All of them (public colleges and universities) have been involved in this. It's voluntary, it's faculty led, it's faculty driven."

While immediate implementation is not expected, Monhollon said that two public colleges will start offering math pathways in the fall semester. This includes Moberly Area Community College (MACC.), which will not require college algebra as a graduation requirement by offering statistics and quantitative reasoning courses as alternatives.

MACC Mathematics Department Coordinator Shelia Bradley said that the intention of the new alternative course is to make math more applicable for students.

"What actually works? What actually applies? Because math is every day," Bradley said. "It's just a matter of what can we do to better equip you to actually do what you want to do with your college degree?"

Bradley said that the math pathways will be strictly an alternative, and not a replacement to college algebra or traditional mathematic requirements. Mohollon also said the new initiative will not take away from mathematical education in public schools.

"This doesn't mean that we shouldn't have required mathematics knowledge and content," Mohollon said. "But let's think about what kind of knowledge and content we need to have."

For more details on the initiative, head over to the Missouri Math Pathways Initiative website.

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