My university has reported that we have just increased our math requirements for admissions into the university. I guess that Purdue’s requirements had been to require students have taken 3 years of math to be admitted, and now it will be 4 years starting in Fall 2011. The argument is that “[t]he vast majority – 95.1 percent – of Indiana students attending Purdue already takes four years of college preparatory math, such as algebra, trigonometry, precalculus and calculus” (no word on out-of-state students) and that there is research that suggests requiring students to have taken 4 years of math preparation before college will help them succeed better in college (I have not seen such research).
My concern is one of accessibility: if calculus programs are programs that richer schools seem more pre-disposed to be able to offer, then it is kids at underresourced schools who will now be excluded from the prospect of a college degree from Purdue. If we’re making things harder for kids from underresourced schools to be admitted to college, then isn’t it rather hypocritical to then say how much we intend to value diversity?
I feel Purdue needs to show us the data that this change is about “success” rather than “selectivity.” If 95% of the students the university already admits aren’t affected by this change, then let’s look that the last 5%. Are they overwhelmingly student of color? Are they overwhelmingly first-generation college students, or students from poor high schools? Show me these data before trying to convince me this is about success and not just about institutional discrimination against kids who live in poor neighborhoods.