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CA State Eliminates Pre-Algebra Courses

Palomar College discontinued offering beginning and intermediate algebra courses in compliance with State legislation. AB1705 restricts community colleges from placing students in these algebra courses by limiting who they can offer them to and/or if they can offer the courses at all. The California legislature hopes this will end discriminatory filtering of students.

Less Courses

Many majors will no longer require college algebra courses. Students with majors not requiring college algebra (Math 110) have begun enrolling in courses that incorporates the math required by their major. AB1705 also lowers the total amount of units needed for some transfers.

Bridging Gaps For STEM Students

Students who have a lengthy break between high school and college or who feel they do not have the math foundation for popular careers such as nursing or computer engineering are not without support. Professor Fari Towfiq, the Math Center Director, advises students,

“Please do not get stressed out with the new system. Our focus is to ensure that our students succeed in their courses. We are available for 57 hours of tutoring per week for our students. In addition to Math 110, we offer Math 115 and Math 130 in the hybrid self-paced format.

Furthermore, the Math Center offers review algebra which is a non-credit open-entry/ open-exit class (course number N Basc 901 73158 ) that students can take to brush up on their math skills prior to taking college-level math. They can also take this course concurrently with their college-level math course.”

The center has 33 computers for student use. Tutors are physically present and available to help students succeed without additional semester units. To accommodate student needs, the center is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 PM, and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 

Technology Makes Hybrid Self-paced Courses Efficient For Working Students

Palomar offers Math 110 (College Algebra) in a hybrid self-paced sixteen-week course in the Math Center made possible with technology. Students have the flexibility to attend in person and via Zoom during any hours the center is open.

In this course, students learn using a tech-enabled interactive textbook with video instruction, and step-by-step problem assistance. A key feature is that as students do the math problem their answer is immediately checked and guided learning tools help students correct errors. The course also has structured test preparation which boosts the student’s ability to complete the required in-person tests in which students have a longer testing period for completion.

Students may also take Math 110 online or in-person in Fast Track or a 16-week course with a professor and receive tutoring services at the Math Center as well during the same operational hours.

AB1705 Debate

According to, critics of the changes are concerned that without offering beginning and intermediate algebra courses at local community colleges, students will not be able to grow their skills at a pace more suitable to their starting point.

Methods in which the state will monitor and assess the impact of realigning requisites by major on college and career performance are also of concern.

In response to these concerns, Professor Towfiq states, “The Math Department is continually assessing what is best for the students.” Palomar’s Math Department and Math Center have been preparing for these legislative changes over the past few years.

Image Sources

  • Math Cartoon: Illustration by Sarah Naldrett. | All Rights Reserved

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