"I think we've reached a compromise that everyone can be comfortable with," said Sue Melton-Malone, R-Waco.
Algebra II has been a hot-button issue for months — especially since Texas was the first state to require the course for most students in 2006. Since then, 16 other states and the District of Columbia have imposed similar algebra II mandates.
Board of Education member Lawrence Allen, a Democrat from Fresno, estimated that 60 or 70 percent of students statewide would still take algebra II under the new curriculum. He said students who don't take the class would still have a chance to master many of the same mathematical and problem-solving concepts.
But fellow Democrat Ruben Cortez of Brownsville described the algebraic reasoning course as "watered-down algebra II."
Martha Dominguez, a Democrat from El Paso, said that without proper guidance, many students, particularly minorities, may not challenge themselves and therefore won't be properly prepared for college or life when they would have otherwise succeeded.
"We're not doing what's in the best interest of our students," Dominguez said.
Republican board member David Bradley, of Beaumont, noted that the board's hands were tied because the Legislature had already passed the curriculum shakeup: "We've got a piece of legislation that we've got to put some lipstick on," he said.
"Algebra II's becoming the whipping boy," Bradley said. "I walk out there in the community and I don't see any kids walking around brain dead and maimed and mangled because they had to take algebra II."