MDRC Report Analyzes How The New Mathways Project Is Laying The Groundwork for Implementation of Multiple Pathways in Texas
MDRC, an education policy research organization, has released a comprehensive report, Laying the Foundations: Early Findings from the New Mathways Project, that analyzes the initial development of the New Mathways Project (NMP) and its first year of implementation at nine community colleges across Texas during the 2013–2014 school year.
In 2012, the Dana Center began work on reconceptualizing the structure, sequence, and content of developmental and college-level math courses at community colleges with the key goals of decreasing the amount of time students spend in developmental math courses, increasing success rates in these courses, and opening up alternative mathematics pathways aligned with students’ career interests.
To support the enactment of NMP, the Dana Center began building a set of accelerated developmental courses (Frameworks for Mathematics and Collegiate Learning; Foundations of Mathematical Reasoning) as well as courses supporting three distinct mathematics pathways (Statistical Reasoning; Quantitative Reasoning; STEM-Prep) aligned with the career interests of students.
Laying the Foundations: Early Findings from the New Mathways Project
Executive Summary [pdf, 683KB]
Full Report [pdf, 707KB]
Nine community colleges agreed, as part of a codevelopment cohort, to implement the NMP model using the newly developed Frameworks and Foundations courses in fall 2013. The MDRC report found that community college faculty were generally positive in their reactions to the new courses and implemented them with fidelity. Students were similarly positive in their reactions. One concern raised by campuses was the transferability of the new course sequences to four-year institutions. In response, the Dana Center introduced its Transfer Champions Initiative designed to increase the transferability of college-level NMP courses to four-year institutions in Texas.
Implementation of the first of the college-level pathway specific course, Statistical Reasoning, began in spring 2014. Initial reaction by faculty was mixed: Some felt that the course lacked sufficient algebraic content while others praised the focus on conceptual understanding and real-life examples. Student reaction was generally positive about the use of group work, real-life examples, and multiple methods for answering a problem.
Student Success Results
A key component underlying the MDRC report was an exploration of the impact of NMP on student outcomes. National trends show that historically fewer than 20% of first-time college students pass a college-level math course with a grade of C or better within three years of enrollment. For the students who enrolled in Foundations in Fall 2013, 60% passed the course with an A, B, or C, and 30% successfully completed Statistical Reasoning during spring 2014.