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Math Should Be a Way, Not a Wall

For far too many students, math is a wall—not a way—to their postsecondary and career success. In fact, the Mathematical Association of America calls math “the most significant barrier” to finishing a degree—and ultimately to a path of greater opportunity for all students. One of the most urgent education issues of our time is ensuring access to an excellent, more advanced mathematics education for all students. As the workforce continues to evolve and rely on advancing technology, our mathematics education must meet the demands for mathematical knowledge and skills.

The Launch Years Initiative supports the scaling of mathematics pathways from high school through postsecondary education and into the workplace, aligned to students’ goals and aspirations. Twenty-two states have joined this work, along with national organizations and leaders in mathematics education. 

The states that are a part of the Launch Years Initiative are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

Through these 22 states, the Launch Years Initiative has the potential to directly impact hundreds of thousands of students across the country. Our nation’s students, including those who are traditionally underserved, often experience mathematics as a barrier to finishing a postsecondary degree or even to being accepted into a postsecondary institution. The Launch Years Initiative and these states will be working to change these realities for students.

Implementing Change in the Transition Years   

States are focusing on different areas, including designing and implementing postsecondary and high school mathematics pathways, modern math courses and content, and advising practices.

For some states, this is a continuation of work with the Launch Years team. From 2019–2022, Georgia and Washington worked with the Launch Years Initiative during its initial run. During that time, Georgia adopted new K–12 mathematics standards and policies, with 98% of their 12th grade students taking math courses recommended by higher education institutions in the state. Washington developed a structure to modernize their Algebra 2 course framework. 

Along with the Launch Years Initiative states, leaders from major national mathematics organizations are collaborating to strengthen and advocate for work that improves the experiences and outcomes for students transitioning from high school into postsecondary education.

The Launch Years Math Organizations Leadership Network (LY-MathLN) includes members from the Alliance of Indigenous Math Circles (AIMC), American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC), American Statistical Association (ASA), Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), Benjamin Banneker Association (BBA), Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences (CBMS), Just Equations, Mathematical Association of America (MAA), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), NCSM: Leadership in Mathematics Education, and TODOS: Mathematics for ALL. 

The collective power of these 22 states and leading mathematics organizations will allow the Launch Years Initiative to drive meaningful change that becomes normative practice. Students will reap the benefits, with math options that enable their success instead of inhibiting it.

The Launch Years Initiative is led by the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with Education Strategy GroupParent Institute for Quality Engagement, and Texas Advanced Computing Center

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