Blog
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Math Pathways Work Reaches Major Milestone

State higher education and math faculty leaders from six trailblazing states came together in Denver this week to share early results from Complete College America and Charles Dana Center’s Building Math Pathways into Programs of Study (BMPPS) Initiative, funded by the Lumina Foundation. Representatives from Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio showcased statewide efforts to end the practice of referring most students, regardless of their chosen programs of study, into College Algebra courses that are designed primarily to support students pursuing college programs that require Calculus, such as those in STEM fields.

At far too many colleges across the country, students who have no intention of entering programs that require Calculus are either placed into College Algebra or remedial course sequences intended to prepare students for College Algebra. Too few of these students complete the courses, which in turn negatively impacts their prospects for completing a degree.

The six states involved in the BMPPS initiative have designed new gateway math pathways that enable students pursuing non-STEM programs to enroll in rigorous and transferable math courses with instruction and content that is more relevant to their chosen program of study. Several institutions have begun to create pathways and expect to see significant improvements in their gateway math completion rates.

In addition, states are designing advising systems to assist students in better aligning their choice of a gateway math course with their chosen program of study, revising program requirements to align to the new pathways, and implementing Corequisite Remediation to enable students in need of additional academic support to receive it while enrolled in college-level gateway math courses.

All of the state initiatives are the result of a groundswell of support from math faculty leaders who have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the low success rates of students in gateway math courses and the negative impact it has had on students attitudes about and understanding of mathematics, not to mention their college success rates. In all cases, math faculty leaders from across these states came together to develop a set of recommendations on the role of mathematics in undergraduate education and the design of new math pathways that will ensure all college graduates have the quantitative skills needed to be productive workers and citizens.

All six states have or are in the process of developing learning outcomes and fully transferable courses in their new math pathways.

Some of the other major accomplishments in states include:

  • Nevada institutions have implemented plans and benchmarks for dramatically increasing the number and percent of new entering students who enroll in and complete gateway math courses in their first academic year. Early results are showing significant increases in enrollments in math courses at all of the state’s colleges and universities.
  • Ohio has designed a new Quantitative Reasoning pathway that will result in new quantitative reasoning courses for students in non-STEM majors. They are now providing intensive professional development for faculty on these courses.
  • Montana and Missouri are designing corequisite models for their new math pathway courses. Montana is fully committed to scaling corequisite support in both College Algebra and their newly-aligned Quantitative Reasoning course beginning in Fall 2018.
  • Colorado has created “Degrees of Designation” for high-enrollment programs in the social sciences and humanities where the math requirements for those programs are the same for virtually all institutions offering those programs in the state.
  • Indiana has created a new, transferable quantitative reasoning course and included it in their state transfer library. In addition, Indiana has designed new meta-majors that will be critical to guiding students into appropriate math courses based on their chosen program of study.

 

Next steps for the initiative will be to collect data on student outcomes as each states begins to scale their pathways. Preliminary findings from a handful of early adopting institutions will be available this summer. In addition, CCA will continue to work with states to fully support implementation at scale.

posted by Bruce Vandal

PERMALINK

Monday, February 10, 2014
Do You Know Where Your Math Pathways Are?

LWBrief_ChangingEquations_WEB_Page_01

As momentum grows for differentiated math course pathways that are aligned with postsecondary programs of study, the transferability of math pathway courses has become a concern for community colleges.

One noteworthy example, which was described in the recent report from Learning Works entitled Changing Equations, is the decision by the University of California not to accept the highly successful Path2Stats course sequence developed by Myra Snell of the California Acceleration Project. Snell developed Path2Stats as a new pathway through college-level statistics that collapsed the long sequence of multiple developmental education courses into a single semester and aligned the developmental education content to what students needed to pass college-level statistics.

The results from Path2Stats have been astounding with students passing gateway math courses at almost six times the rate of traditional remedial sequences. Nevertheless, the University of California decided not to accept the Path2Stats sequence. As a result, Path2Stats students have had to resort to an appeal process to have their statistics course accepted for transfer. As you might imagine, the U of California decision has created a chilling effect on efforts to replicate this highly effective model.

For many community colleges, the final hurdle to creating statistics and/or quantitative reasoning gateway courses is ensuring these courses will meet the degree requirements of a student’s chosen program at a receiving four-year institution. While many states have agreements that guarantee community college courses will transfer for general education credit, it is less clear whether specific community college math courses will meet the requirements for relevant majors.

CCA has encountered transfer challenges to math pathways in many states. All of the states involved in our Gateway Course Success Academy this past summer identified the transfer of math pathways courses as an issue. States like Georgia and Ohio took the issue head on with math taskforces of math leaders from both community colleges and four-year institutions who are creating blueprints for building transferable math pathways. While these efforts are promising, the real work may be to convince academic programs to consider alternatives to college algebra for their gateway math requirement.

While the task seems daunting, many states may have done much of the work and don’t even know it.  This was the case at a gateway course success academy we recently coordinated with the West Virginia Community and Technical College System. Community college leaders expressed concern that building differentiated math pathways might cause transfer problems for their students.  However, upon further review, it appears that the issue is not transferability of the courses, but a lack of understanding of the state wide transfer and articulation agreement.  At the academy, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission made it clear that because of their state transfer and articulation agreement, transfer of community college math courses into programs of study should not be a significant barrier.  In fact, the WVHEPC encouraged institutions to bring any challenges regarding the transferability of math pathway courses to the Commission for review. Bottom line – transfer issues for math pathway courses may be more a perceived problem, than a real one.

As colleges build math pathways, a first item of business should be to review current transfer and articulation agreements. It may be that you have math pathways and don’t even know it. You could find that your state has already articulated community college math courses to gateway math requirements at four year institutions. Effectively communicating these agreements and the process for challenging rulings made by colleges to faculty, advisors and students could put to bed concerns about transferring gateway math courses from community colleges to four year institutions.

If your state has state wide transfer and articulation agreements down to the program level, they should be online. Colorado has an outstanding tool that faculty, advisors and students can access to review the transfer of credits. If you have the agreements online, then you should make sure all faculty and institutional leaders are fully aware of them as they engage in the redesign of math pathways and academic maps.

posted by Bruce Vandal

PERMALINK

Blog Archive