Skip to main content

Higher education stakeholders across the country have identified a major contributing factor to poor outcomes in student retention, completion, and social mobility – mathematics. A clear body of research suggests traditional college mathematics is a significant barrier to degree completion for all fields of study.

To support student success in mathematics, the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) works with states and systems to address key policy issues requiring structural reform:

  • Adopting multiple mathematics pathways aligned to programs of study, instead of using College Algebra as the default gateway math course for most students.
  • Accelerating student progress to college-level course completion through co-requisite strategies instead of sequences of developmental education course focused on algebra content.
  • Modernizing placement practices using multiple measures to accurately assess students preparedness for college-level coursework, instead of a single standardized test.
  • Aligning mathematics course requirements within departments and between transfer institutions to ensure consistent application of gateway math courses to programs of study.

Taking a Top Down/Bottom Up Approach

The Dana Center addresses these challenges by developing an intentional process employing a “top down/bottom up” approach that is “faculty-led, administrator-supported, and policy-enabled.” We engage extensively with state and system-level policymakers through our work in Texas, the Building Math Pathways to Programs of Study and the Mathematics Pathways to Completion projects, and numerous other state-specific efforts.

The DCMP has also developed numerous policy briefs and other resources and provided guidance and in-depth technical assistance to help states reform placement policy, accelerate student completion, and ensure the transfer and applicability of math courses between institutions and programs of study.

Without appropriate policies and policymaker support, mathematics pathways cannot be fully implemented or sustained. Policymakers and other key stakeholders at the institution, system, and state levels are uniquely positioned to promote and coordinate a policy environment that supports the scaled, sustainable adoption of multiple mathematics pathways. Policy leaders should work with and through mathematics faculty and higher education administrators to identify barriers, support implementation, and build a sense of ownership in the work.

DCMP State-Level Mobilization

Learn about the national expansion of DCMP services and resources in state-level mobilizations.

Read More