Scaling

Dana Center New Mathematics Pathways Grant

The New Mathways Project (NMP) is an initiative of The University of Texas at Austin's Charles A. Dana Center that is achieving dramatic results. After NMP was implemented in Texas, three times as many students successfully completed a college-credit-bearing math course within one year. In some cases, the success rate was five times higher than the state average. The Dana Center has since expanded the project to 11 additional states.

Issue

Algebra is a roadblock on the path to college completion for far too many students. Some students attempt it several times before passing the course, spending extra time and money. Others never complete the class—or a degree.

This dilemma persists whether students are already prepared for college-level math or have to begin in developmental education, and whether their ultimate goal is a license, certificate, associate's degree, transfer to a four-year program, a bachelor's degree, or beyond. Unless students are majoring in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field, proficiency in algebra- and calculus-based mathematics is rarely required of today's professions.

Solution

Students are more likely to succeed in math and in college when coursework reflects their academic and career goals. Multiple math pathways provide students the opportunity to complete relevant and rigorous course sequences that emphasize quantitative reasoning for fine arts and liberal arts majors, statistical reasoning for social science majors, and algebraic reasoning for STEM or math-intensive majors.

Number 1 Relevance of mathematics to students' academic program

Number 2 Acceleration to complete a college-level math course in one year or less

Number 3 Support for student learning

Number 4 Evidence-based pedagogy and curriculum design

Reforming developmental and gateway mathematics education requires coordinated effort between two-year institutions, four-year institutions, policymakers and other key stakeholders. The Dana Center's New Mathways Project takes a state-level approach to improving student success and completion by addressing the policy and practice barriers across systems, while simultaneously equipping colleges for change. A mathematics task force supports faculty leadership, establishes the vision and generates the momentum to promote modern math pathways statewide.

Great Lakes has committed $600,000 over three years to support the Dana Center's effort to scale the New Mathways Project across the state of Arkansas. We expect NMP to significantly boost student success in mathematics, both by making sure the content students are learning is relevant to their major and by accelerating underprepared students through college-level courses in one year or less. Our funds supplement a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that allowed five new states to adopt the NMP model: Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington.

The Dana Center provides tools, resources and services to support a state through each phase of the NMP mobilization process. Through spring 2019, the Dana Center will collaborate with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Arkansas Community Colleges (ACC), and the ACC Center for Student Success to develop a statewide agenda for establishing pathways that will propel more undergraduate students to complete course requirements and earn degrees and certificates.

Now in the project's second year, 32 two- and four-year institutions in Arkansas are in phase 3, implementing the plans they drafted with consideration to the challenges and opportunities they identified during phases 1 and 2. Through intensive follow-up with a subset of these colleges, the Dana Center has found that while multiple mathematics pathways exist in the majority of Arkansas' two- and four-year institutions, there is less certainty that the right mathematics pathway is correctly aligned to each program of study.

Ensuring transfer and applicability of credits is also a challenge many Arkansas institutions struggle with due to a lack of statewide guidance. In the year ahead, the Dana Center will continue to provide technical assistance and coaching to individual institutions and convene regional task forces to advance larger conversations, such as transfer across two– and four–year institutions.

Dana Center's New Math Pathways Mobilization

Questions

Contact Senior Program Manager Sue Cui at scui@glhec.org or (608) 294-8922.

October 19, 2017

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