Creating a New Paradigm for Mathematics
While much has been done, more work is needed to ensure all students are supported in achieving their educational potential. Because of the current structures of our educational systems, mathematics has posed a particular barrier for students, especially those from diverse backgrounds and low-income families.
Well-intentioned efforts to transform high school mathematics have lacked connectivity to the trends in higher education and the changing needs of today's workforce. Yet we know that students’ success in college is greatly influenced by the mathematics they learn, how they learn it, and how they see themselves as a learner and doer of mathematics.
That’s why we believe it is time to better align the mathematics courses and expectations from high school to postsecondary education.
Introducing the Launch Years Initiative
The Dana Center’s Launch Years initiative seeks to usher in a new paradigm to support students, specifically focusing on the transition from junior year of high school through their junior year in college. It is this timeframe that’s critical in supporting students for college preparation and guiding them through pathways for degree attainment.
The Dana Center’s Launch Years initiative is backed by a $6.68 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and includes work with collaborators from Education Strategy Group, Achieve, Community College Research Center (CCRC), and Association of Public and Land-Grant universities (APLU).
Focusing on the critical junior-junior year timeframe, the Launch Years initiative puts forward a fundamentally new approach to mathematics. It maintains the rigor needed for postsecondary degrees and high-demand jobs, while also creating new pathways for significantly more students – including those traditionally underserved – to thrive in college and realize their dreams.
The Launch Years Approach
This multi-year strategy focuses on the ground in several states to assess the high school mathematics students can access every day in the classroom. It also seeks to bring K-12 and higher education institutions together at a regional level to ensure students have clear paths for success. From these learnings, open access resources will be developed and made available to schools and districts in all states to better support students.
Strategy 1: Agreement
Create consensus around a common understanding of mathematics pathways that extend from high school into post-secondary education and prepare students for success.
Strategy 2: Outreach
Mobilize a wide range of constituencies to advance the new paradigm for college and career readiness in mathematics that reduces persistent equity gaps.
Strategy 3: Tools
Create new pathways for math instruction in the third and fourth years of high school and initiate the implementation of transition math courses.
Fostering Change: Launch Years Goals
Strategic Goal 1: Build Consensus and Establish Legitimacy
The focus of this goal is to select the states and lead organizations representing K-12 and higher education, workforce and industry, disciplinary and professional associations, and equity advocates to establish a consensus on what is the new paradigm for college and career readiness in mathematics.
This new consensus view aligns to the multiple mathematics pathways movement, addresses the mathematical demands of the workforce, and champions policies and practices that prioritize the long-term success of historically underserved students in mathematics.
Strategic Goal 2: Leverage Influence and Broaden Awareness
In Goal 2, we build upon the work of Goal 1 to broaden awareness, engagement, and mobilization across sectors and constituents. This includes working with a broader, more diverse set of organizations representing K–12 and higher education, workforce and industry, disciplinary and professional associations, and equity advocates to adopt the new consensus view for college and career readiness and integrate that view into their routine work.
Public actions—such as formally adopted position statements, external communications and policy advocacy, and engagement and mobilization of their constituency—help broaden and deepen support and fuel the movement.
Strategic Goal 3: Equip Systems and Institutions for Work at Scale
Finally, in Goal 3, we align to ensure state systems, regional networks, and individual institutions of higher education and K–12 schools have the capacity, structures, and tools to implement at scale new approaches to Transition to College courses and Algebra II Equivalent Pathways that reflect the new consensus view for college and career readiness in mathematics.
Changes to structures, policy, and normative practice address barriers to historically underserved students in mathematics—especially those from African American, Latino, and low-income backgrounds—and create conditions to dramatically reduce persistent equity gaps and increase long-term success.
The Launch Years Resources
A Perfect Storm: Ten Years of Mathematics Pathways (April 2019) – What’s next for math pathways, featuring the monograph Emerging Issues in Mathematics Pathways.
Rigor: Evolving Definitions in a Changing Landscape (March 2019) – A roundtable discussion about what rigor really means, and why it matters.
From College-Ready Students to Student-Ready Colleges (Dec 2018)– Press release about the Launch Years initiative.
Launch Years Toolkit (Jan 2018) – Leading up to launching the full-scale Launch Years initiative, the Dana Center developed its Mathematics Launch Years Toolkit. This toolkit consists of briefs intended to support districts and higher education systems in streamlining students’ transition from high school to college.
Launch Years Brief 1
The first brief in the Launch Years Toolkit examines the changing definitions of college readiness and practices in higher education mathematics that have a positive impact on student completion.Read brief
Launch Years Brief 2
This brief provides a process to facilitate the complex task of developing learning objectives for a mathematics transition course offered in the last year of high school.Read brief
Launch Years Brief 3
This brief is intended to support the efforts of K-12 and higher education systems level leaders and mathematics faculty leaders to improve K-16 alignment.Read brief
What is Rigor in Mathematics Really?
Many successes in math education reform have prompted concerns about maintaining rigor. This brief synthesizes interviews from leaders in the field and offers recommendations for a shared definition.Read Brief
Get in Touch
We collaborate with state districts and teachers to develop innovative curricula, resources, and professional development.