Increasing Student Success in Entry-Level College Mathematics

Students Join Hands and Greater Texas Foundation PhotoThe Dana Center is pleased to announce that it has received a grant for $250,000 from Greater Texas Foundation in support of the Center’s Increasing Student Success in Entry-Level College Mathematics project.

Texas is a rapidly growing state, with an increasingly diverse population. An educated workforce is essential for its dynamic economy, particularly as Texas businesses continue to expand and new companies relocate to the state. To maintain that momentum, moving students to, through, and to completion of postsecondary education is essential.

The Dana Center seeks to impact systems change and policy by articulating high school transition mathematics courses with postsecondary mathematics pathways through regional partnerships. The Increasing Student Success in Entry-Level College Mathematics project will work at the regional level to address the low success rate of students beginning their postsecondary studies in developmental mathematics courses. The Center seeks to accomplish this by (1) building regional partnerships of community colleges and their feeder school districts, (2) generating existence proofs for transition courses that articulate with the multiple mathematics pathways approach, and (3) producing communication and policy briefs on how to articulate the college prep mathematics course with the multiple mathematics pathways approach. The overall success of this work will be determined by the extent to which more diverse Texas students exit high schools ready to enroll in and successfully complete an entry-level college math course without remediation.

The low success rate of students beginning their postsecondary studies in developmental and gateway mathematics courses is of significant concern. National data show that fewer than one in five students referred to remediation ever complete a gateway college math course, with less than 10 percent of those students earning a degree within three years. Disproportionate numbers of those students come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and low-income families. While developmental education was designed to help underprepared students gain the skills they need for college success, current data reveal that students referred to it are more likely to end up with debt rather than a degree.

In 2012, the Dana Center took a critical first step in addressing the transition pitfalls when, with the Texas Association of Community Colleges, it began designing the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP). This partnership is a large-scale effort to remodel developmental and gateway college mathematics courses as well as associated placement, advising, and transfer policies. The move in higher education to modernize mathematics has extended into high schools. Texas House Bill 5 (HB5) mandates that school districts offer a college prep mathematics course for students deemed not ready for college at the end of their third year of high school. The changes introduced by HB5, combined with the strong footprint of the DCMP, have created the opportunity for expanding partnerships between community colleges and school districts to enact high-quality transition courses that reflect modern mathematics and curtail use of outdated, ineffective remedial Intermediate Algebra courses.

About Greater Texas Foundation

Headquartered in Bryan, Greater Texas Foundation supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete postsecondary education. With a particular focus on helping underserved and disadvantaged populations, the Foundation pursues its mission by forming partnerships, supporting research, sharing knowledge, and making grants.

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