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Successful 'New Mathways Project' Expands into Arkansas to Increase Math Achievement

Great Lakes Grant Will Help Establish Multiple Pathways to Accelerate Undergraduate Degree Completion

—Algebra has the highest failure rate of any college course, with just half of students earning their required math credits, reports the Mathematical Association of America. Even so, most colleges and universities funnel first-year students into an algebra course sequence, regardless of whether algebra is relevant to their program of study or future career. All too often, this disconnect becomes a barrier to student success in math and overall college completion rates.

The Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin recognized the need for a fundamentally different approach to postsecondary math education. The Dana Center developed the New Mathways Project (NMP) to replace the single-track algebra course model with multiple pathways that boost student achievement. Both college-ready and underprepared students are more likely to succeed when math content is relevant to their majors and career aspirations. Three rigorous pathways 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.

"The Dana Center brings a unique approach to the work of improving student success in mathematics," said Amy Getz, Strategic Implementation Lead of Higher Education Services at the Dana Center. "We engage educational stakeholders at the national, state, institutional, and classroom level so that everything from transfer and placement policy, to advising practices and course content are aligned to foster the broad scale of multiple math pathways. Our innovative strategy establishes a common statewide vision that allows local leaders to customize implementation based on institutional strengths and needs."

Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation joins the Dana Center’s community of funding partners with a $600,000 grant to scale the New Mathways Project at public colleges in the state of Arkansas. Funds will support ongoing efforts to mobilize statewide adoption of pathways, including technical assistance provided by the Dana Center for capacity building, planning support, and guiding policy work.

"Math education has become a formidable barrier to college completion, yet rarely do we see a single initiative with such capacity for broad-scale change," said Richard D. George, Great Lakes' President and Chief Executive Officer. "We're inspired by the commitment of higher education stakeholders across the state of Arkansas to work together with the Dana Center to implement the New Mathways Project."

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 multiple math pathways that will propel more undergraduate students to complete course requirements and earn degrees and certificates.

"Of all the student success innovations we have pursued in Arkansas, NMP has the greatest potential to have a systemic impact," said Mike Leach, Director of the ACC Center for Student Success. "We have all the right players involved, including two-year and four-year colleges, and the state's higher education and political leadership, and so expectations for success are high. We are eager to begin this important effort to help transform Arkansas' higher education system to better serve students."

To learn more about the New Mathways Project, visit the Dana Center website.

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