As the education system is constantly changing, California universities are reevaluating whether Data Science is equivalent to Algebra 2 classes in high school requirements.

Before 2020, California students were allowed to take Data Science to fill the same requirements as Algebra 2, so students would have the choice between the two classes. In 2020, the state started an experiment, requiring students to take Algebra 2 to fill graduation requirements. After the experiment, Data Science is moving toward being an elective class rather than an A-G requirement class.

Data Science is a math class offered in high schools and colleges that combines computer science, math and statistics, creating a study of data and analytics. Senior Sahil Sudhani feels that rather than a math class, Data Science is more logic based.

“You’re not really doing math. You’re kind of just interpreting something,” Sudhani said. “There’s no right or wrong here. It’s more ambiguous. It’s valuable, but it’s not the same.”

Sudhani noticed that concepts taught in Algebra 2 do not show up in Data Science, making him feel that Data Science is not an alternative but more of a supplement.

“We haven’t really gone over things like slopes and polynomials and all that, so I’d say this is closer to a statistics class than an Algebra 2 class,” Sudhani said.

With new changes approaching in the math department regarding Algebra 2 and Data Science, math department chair Taylor Burk, feels the math department is starting to question if students will meet graduation requirements, or if they will have to change their plans to accommodate the new rules.

“Current kids who are in those classes are sort of grandfathered in. They’re not going to be pulled from their class and made to take Algebra 2,” Burk said. “Going forward, it might be that that requirement is not met, like taking Data Science doesn’t count in the same way as Algebra 2.”

Burk feels that Data Science is an important class SCHS offers and should be available for students to take if they want. She believes that for students who are not pursuing a STEM or medical career, Data Science would be a better option for a math class.

“I think that (Data Science) is going to be much more useful for the majority of our kids, especially if they’re not pursuing a STEM career,” Burk said. “Even like psychology or something like that. So many people are also going into communications majors or psychology majors or these other majors that really calculus is not a requirement.”

Like Burk, Sudhani believes Data Science is a class that can be useful for many majors and everyday life.

“Medical, economics, physics, engineering and anything in finance because you’re always tracking some kind of data in the end,” Sudhani said.

Sudhani plans to pursue a career in economics, so he feels that Data Science would be a good option to take as a class in high school.

“I feel that it’s valuable because I want to go into economics or the financial sector, and I feel like there’s a lot of data analysis there,” Sudhani said. “I figured Data Science was an emerging field which I could take part in.”

Burk believes that rather than a math class, Data Science is a life skills class she recommends.

“Just being a knowledgeable consumer of information because you’re presented with statistics every day,” Burk said. “If someone gives you a number or the median home price in Santa Clara County, you need to know what that means and the basic statistics.”

Although Data Science is being considered to be removed as an alternative to Algebra 2 for graduation requirements, it is still an elective option. Burk encourages students to take the class sometime in the future.

“Statistics and Data Science helps you in every aspect of life because it’s actual information that you’re been given on a daily basis. You need to be an informed consumer of all of that information,” Burk said.