Establishing a Task Force on the Requirements of CSU General Education (GE) Mathematics / Quantitative Reasoning (B4) Credit



RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) appoint a task
force to address two fundamental questions.

  • Can the pre-requisite content for the CSU GE B4 course be met concurrently
    with achieving the CSU GE B4 standards?
  • What should be the pre- (potentially co-) requisite content for quantitative
    reasoning and mathematical competency (CSU GE B4)?1

; and be it further,

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU define the membership of this task force to potentially include:

  • A member of the General Education Advisory Committee (GEAC) Statway advisory group
  • Another member of GEAC
  • A member of Academic Affairs (AA) Committee
  • A member of Academic Preparation & Education Programs (APEP) Committee
  • A representative of the Math Council
  • A faculty member who teaches B4 outside of mathematics
  • A California Acceleration Project (CAP) or Statway instructor
  • A member of the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) test development committee
  • A representative of the CSU Office of the Chancellor
  • A representative of the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges (ASCCC)
  • Any other interested ASCSU faculty member

RESOLVED:  That the ASCSU distribute this resolution to University of California (UC) Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) leadership, General Education Advisory Committee (GEAC), CSU Math Council, Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges (ASCCC) Leadership, Executive Vice Chancellor Loren Blanchard.

RATIONALE: Five years ago the Chancellor’s Office General Education Advisory Committee (GEAC) approved a limited pilot program within the California Community Colleges (CCC) in order to assess the viability of meeting CSU GE B4 quantitative reasoning requirements with a two-course integrated statistics sequence.  This sequence bypasses the existing intermediate algebra proficiency in quantitative reasoning required by Executive Order (EO) 1100 as a prerequisite to CSU GE B4 courses.  At its September 2015 meeting GEAC agreed to extend the pilot (at seven CCC districts) for an additional three years and invited other CCC districts to submit proposals utilizing curricular innovations in statistical pathways.  In addition, GEAC called for the establishment of a task force to include disciplinary experts to review existing B4 standards in light of the fact that some of these statistics based pathways did not include a requirement to demonstrate proficiency in intermediate algebra prior to the award of B4 GE credit.

General Education Curricular standards are the province of the faculty and an expansion of the pilot has implications for CSU admissions and graduation standards and thus will rely on ASCSU action.  The potential expansion of the GEAC pilot project on integrated statistical pathways for underprepared students generates a need to view the potential consequences of systemic changes to admissions standards and to EO 1100.  Any potential changes will influence the minimum requirements for granting of a degree from the CSU.

Reducing achievement gaps and improving student success in meeting pre-baccalaureate and CSU GE mathematics/quantitative reasoning (B4) requirements are currently problematic. The traditional developmental pathway often constitutes a “leaky pipeline” in terms of success. As a result many students will never qualify for transfer because they cannot complete the prerequisites to CSU GE B4 requirements. Integrated statistical pathway programs such as the Statway pilot and the California Acceleration Project, were established to increase the number of community college students who would satisfy the CSU GE B4 requirement. There exists early work that illustrates the effectiveness of integrated statistical pathways (e.g., Carnegie Statway, California Acceleration Project, etc.) in reducing achievement gaps and improving student success as measured by pass rates. These efforts, however, do not achieve the levels of proficiency in intermediate algebra that are currently required for CSU freshman admission and thus introduce the specter of a “lesser degree” via lowering of academic standards.

The CSU Math Council, in their statement of April 2015, advocates that all students, at a minimum, attain knowledge of content as defined by the ELM requirements prior to the award of CSU GE mathematics/quantitative reasoning (B4) requirements.  The statement reads in part:

We oppose the replacement of elementary or introductory statistics courses at CSU campuses by any program or pathway course lacking an explicit prerequisite or co-requisite* that subsumes the content of ELM. Such pathway courses include Statway. While the statistics content of Statway is totally aligned with the standard curriculum in elementary statistics, the pre-college mathematical content of Statway by itself does not meet the ELM standards and does not prepare students for college level courses. Hence Statway in its present form does not satisfactorily accomplish remediation and GE QR [quantitative reasoning/B4] in a single track, thereby pointing to the need of having all ELM content in a prerequisite or co-requisite*.

There are unresolved discrepancies among the prerequisite B4 requirement (currently “Intermediate Algebra,” per EO 1100); the potential use of ELM content (per the Math Council Statement); and the absence of any such pre/co-requisites for the CSU-approved Statway pilot project (and potentially other CSU-approved projects).  This resolution attempts to address these concerns.

On the question of whether or not the pre-requisite knowledge could be achieved concurrently with the other B4 requirements, the answer is likely “yes” given the existence of “stretch” courses in which the content of a single course is stretched over multiple terms to allow inclusion of pre-baccalaureate material.  It remains an open question whether or not the current pre-requisite (possible co-requisite) content should be Intermediate Algebra (per EO 1100), the material covered by the ELM exam (per the Math Council statement), or another standard (per “just in time” delivery of algebra via Statway).A related issue of whether CSU GE B4 standards themselves could be satisfied by meeting one of two pathways (possibly Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics – STEM - vs. non-STEM; quantitative-based vs. statistically-based; etc.) should also be addressed once the issues touched on by this task force have been resolved.

Useful Definitions and Contextualization:

Title 5 requires “inquiry into mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning and their applications.” (CCR § 40405.1).  

EO 1100 further explicates“Courses in subarea B4 shall have an explicit intermediate algebra prerequisite, and students shall develop skills and understanding beyond the level of intermediate algebra. Students will not just practice computational skills, but will be able to explain and apply basic mathematical concepts and will be able to solve problems through quantitative reasoning.”

§ 40402.1. Entry-Level Learning Skills.

Each student admitted to The California State University is expected to possess basic competence in the English language and mathematical computation to a degree reasonably expected of entering college students. Students admitted who cannot demonstrate such basic competence should be identified as quickly as possible and be required to take steps to overcome the deficiencies. Any coursework completed primarily for this purpose shall not be applicable to the baccalaureate degree.

Note: Authority cited: Section 89030, Education Code. Reference: Section 89030, Education Code.

Attachments: Math Council Statement; GE Guiding Notes excerpts on B4

bill would suspend the requirement that California high school students pass the CAHSEE as a condition for receiving a high school diploma for the next three academic years, 2015-2016 through 2017-2018, or as long as the exam remains unavailable. During this period the Superintendent of Public Instruction is required to convene an advisory panel to develop recommendations on (1) continuation of the high school exit examination and on (2) alternate pathways to graduation. These recommendations are to be presented to the State Board of education in March 2016.

Approved Unanimously  September 4, 2015


    1Executive Order 1100 specifies Intermediate Algebra; the math council statement advocates for ELM content; Statway includes a lesser amount of algebra.



Academic Senate Home | Calendar | Search Resolutions | Contact Us | Helpful Links