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Equity. Access. Excellence.

Creating a New Paradigm for Mathematics

Across the country, it's far too common that high school graduates are ill-prepared for the type of mathematics they will encounter in college. And too often, 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 partners from Education Strategy Group, Achieve, and Community College Research Center (CCRC).

This multi-year strategy focuses on the ground in several states to assess the high school math curriculum students encounter every day in the classroom. It also seeks to bring 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 support students better.

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 Toolkit

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. 

The “mathematics launch years” courses in high school refer to the mathematics courses that follow Algebra I and Geometry or their equivalent courses. In launch years courses, students explore mathematics pathways aligned to their programs of study and career aspirations.


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.

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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.

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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