Texas students are not demonstrating the level of math achievement needed to be successful in today’s – or tomorrow’s – economy. To find a solution, Texas 2036 reviewed the data in our latest report, “Solving for X in Texas.”

What’s the problem?

  • 55% of Texas students are below grade level in math on the STAAR exam.
  • A 21 point decline has been recorded in the percentage of Texas eighth grade students at or above Basic in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) since 2011.
  • Less than half of Texas high school graduates meet college readiness benchmarks in math.
  • Only 10% of parents believe their child is performing below grade level in math.

How should Texas solve this issue?

Produce high-quality professional development and coach teachers to ensure they are equipped with tools to help struggling students.

Utilize math “screeners” in early grades and promptly notify parents of identified difficulties.

Provide parents with resources to support tailored “math-at-home” instruction.

California vs. Texas: Different Approaches to Advanced Math

In 2023, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 2124 which will enroll all qualified students in Algebra 1. Taking an opposite approach, the California State Board of Education suggests delaying access to advanced math for most students in an attempt to promote equity. How these two states address shared challenges – and the divergent approaches they pursue – may shape the nation’s future growth.

While Texas is enrolling more middle school students in Algebra 1, California’s State Board of Education adopted guidance that questions the need for offering this critical course before high school.

California’s efforts to delay enrollment in Algebra 1 until high school were met with objections from both experts and parents concerned that this proposed direction “would hold back students who were ready for more advanced math, putting them at a disadvantage in applying for college with students from other states.”

Meanwhile, in Texas, school districts like Dallas ISD (DISD) have previously implemented policies similar to SB 2124 legislation and have seen enrollment in advanced math courses better reflect the diversity of the district. After implementing the policy that informed Senate Bill 2124, DISD saw the percentage of those enrolled in advanced math increase across multiple student groups. The percentage of Black students enrolling in sixth grade honors math more than doubled, rising from 17% to 43%. Among Hispanic and white students, there were increases of 26 and 31 percentage points, respectively.