Complex variables. Rational expressions. Quadratic equations.
For many high-school students, these are the specters that haunt them on the road to a diploma. Starting this school year, the bar moves higher.
Students in the Class of 2013 and all classes that follow will need an extra year of math and science to graduate, even if they have no college plans. The fourth year of math is causing the most anxiety among the many students who struggle with the subject.
The increased requirements are part of a state and national push by education reformers to better prepare students for college and the workforce. Last school year, 13 states required four years of math. For the 2012-13 school year, five more states, including Arizona, will have similar requirements, according to the Education Commission of the States, a group that tracks state policy trends.
In Arizona, beginning with the Class of 2013, students will need four years of math to graduate, including Algebra II, up from three years. In spring 2015, students will also face new, tougher national academic standards.