Laura Rigas, Director of Communications
Massachusetts Executive Office of Education
(617) 979-8352

For Immediate Release
September 24, 2015

Baker-Polito Administration Urges Massachusetts Students to Take Four Years of High School Math

College Students Spreading Word of New Math Admissions Standards at “Go Higher!” Events

Fitchburg, MA – September 24, 2015 – Education Secretary Jim Peyser today joined Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago and students from across the state’s public higher education system to remind high school seniors that beginning next fall, four years of high school math - including math taken during the senior year - will be required for admission to any state university or University of Massachusetts campus.

The new minimum standard for admission, approved by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education in 2011, will apply in 2016 to all in-state and out-of-state applicants hoping to attend any of the four UMass undergraduate campuses or nine state universities. Freshman applicants will be required to complete Algebra I and II, Geometry or Trigonometry, (or comparable coursework), and must complete a mathematics course during their senior year. A two-year Algebra I course will be counted toward the fourth-year math requirement; a Pre-Algebra course will not. The new minimum admissions standards do not apply to the community colleges, which use “open” admissions and enrollment policies.

There are no state-level requirements to complete a particular sequence of academic coursework in the Commonwealth; such mandates are set by individual districts. According to a recent survey by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 65.7% of Massachusetts school districts do require four years of mathematics for all students, while the remaining one-third of districts do not.

Additionally, beginning in fall, 2017, all students applying for admission to a UMass campus or a state university will need to have three years of science, including at least one lab science, in addition to four years of math. Computer science courses may be credited as a science or math elective, according to the new standards, “based on the inclusion of rigorous mathematical or scientific concepts and topics.”

Full details on the new admissions standards can be found at the Department of Higher Education’s web site.

“We want to ensure that all applicants to our state’s four-year universities are aware of the new math requirements set forth by the Board of Higher Education,” said Education Secretary Jim Peyser, speaking today at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fitchburg, site of today’s launch of the new “Go Higher!” web site and event series to promote college access and readiness. “Monty Tech is already a leader in STEM, and I want to ensure that students and families elsewhere are not only prepared for the admissions requirements, but also will meet the demands of the workforce of the commonwealth.”

“The Board of Higher Education vote to strengthen admission standards was taken because too many Massachusetts students arrive on campus unprepared for college-level math,” said Commissioner Santiago. “In the 21st century, math and science literacy are essential for all students. We need all incoming freshmen to show up ready to succeed on day one, and we know that taking a rigorous course of study in high school is the number one best way for students to prepare for college.”

The message on the importance of math and science was  also shared by “Go Higher!” student speakers from Fitchburg State University, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Mount Wachusett Community College, Quinsigamond Community College, and Worcester State University.

“If I hadn’t taken the fourth year of math in high school, chances are I wouldn’t have gone to college,” said Josh Lamm, a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, '13, who spoke at the event today.

“Math helped me get to where I need to go today because a lot of the careers that are in today’s world and society require a lot of it. Even if it’s your senior year, push that one math class because that one math class is really going to save you in the future,” said Kaila Lundgren, a nursing student at Mount Wachusett Community College, who spoke at the event today.

The “Go Higher!” campaign also reminds students that by 2020, 72% of the jobs in Massachusetts will require some post-secondary education. At high school events across the state this fall and next spring, students from the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges will speak directly to more than 8,000 high school students to share their advice on how to prepare for college, as well as their experience choosing a major, adjusting to campus life, and preparing for careers through internships and research opportunities.

The Department of Higher Education’s “Go Higher!” web portal promotes dual enrollment programs, honors programs, transfer opportunities and financial aid information for students, and also include direct links to all campus web sites.


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