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Charles A. Dana Center Higher Ed In Brief
September/October 2018
A Message from Martha

I hope your fall semester is going well. Where did the summer go?

In the last month, I visited colleges and universities in Florida, Illinois, and California where we celebrated successful initial implementations of Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) as a transformative force in student learning and completion. These outstanding institutions now continue their courageous work as they focus on scaling and sustaining math pathways.

The DCMP work among these institutions is ready to move from limited scope to full-scale, normative practice. Normative practice is when mathematics pathways are deeply embedded into an institution’s culture, helping to ensure more equitable access for all students, including underrepresented minorities, those from low-income backgrounds, and first-generation students.

While we expand on our work, we also keep continuous improvement in mind. Most of us are familiar with this concept because of requirements from regional accrediting agencies. The common continuous improvement cycle includes planning, implementation, evaluation, and implementation of revisions.

Math faculty lead this ongoing effort because they want students to engage in a high-quality learning experience in math pathways designed so that:
  • Courses integrate strategies to support students as learners.
  • Courses are aligned across the institution and can transfer between institutions.
  • Instruction incorporates evidence-based curriculum and pedagogy.
The DCMP’s Call to Action brief addresses continuous improvement for scaling and sustaining mathematics pathways.

I encourage you to review this call to action as you scale pathways and continuously improve courses, enabling more students to acquire the quantitative skills needed for their future careers and lives. Please share with us your strategies, successes and your faculty and student stories so that the math pathways movement may, in the spirit of continuous improvement, build upon your knowledge.

Wishing much success to each of you for this academic year.

Martha Ellis, Ph.D., Director
Higher Education Strategy, Policy, and Services 
What We're Doing 
Advancing Math Pathways Implementations to Full-Scale Sustainability: Three Factors

Download "Mathematics Pathways: Scaling and Sustaining"As our work continues to advance, it’s an appropriate time to reflect upon the collective accomplishments of the mathematics pathways movement, to assess what we have learned, and to identify where to go from here. We have come a long way in a short time, but there are still many students who do not have access to the benefits of mathematics pathways.

The new Call to Action brief, “Mathematics Pathways: Scaling and Sustaining,” explores three primary factors necessary to bring math pathways implementation to normative practice.

Learn more – download the brief here.

“Will this math course apply to my degree? Will it actually transfer?”
Download "Notes from the Field - Number 6"

These questions are common among students starting college. Many institutions implementing and scaling mathematics pathways are faced with the challenge of enrolling students in relevant gateway math courses that are aligned to their programs of study. One reason for this challenge is the need for entry-level courses to transfer and apply reliably and predictably across institutions.

In Arkansas, math pathways stakeholders have begun addressing this issue through a statewide effort to align mathematics requirements for non-STEM degrees.

Read about these efforts in Notes from the Field – Number 6.

Actionable Recommendations for Math Pathways in California’s
Central Valley

Download CVHEC's Math Pathways Task Force Recommendations report here. The Dana Center Mathematics Pathways entered a collaboration in 2017 with the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC). This collaboration aims to raise student completion rates across 14 Central Valley community colleges and three California State University (CSU) campuses by redesigning and creating math pathways aligned with students’ programs of study. 

Earlier this year, the CVHEC-led Central Valley Math Pathways Task Force published a report that establishes guidelines and provides recommendations aligned with California state legislation and executive orders from the CSU Chancellor. The task force is now poised to launch its next phase of work to establish goals for scale, plan for implementation across regional colleges and universities, and initiate actions to create enabling conditions for implementation.

Explore the recommendations report now.
“The collaboration between the Dana Center and the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC) this last year has thrust the colleges and universities of the region into the spotlight in California. The work of the CVHEC Math Pathways Task Force is being eyed closely with interest throughout the state in anticipation that other institutions will learn and benefit from this important work.”
Dr. Benjamin Duran, Executive Director
Central Valley Higher Education Consortium
Math Reform Thinking Extends to Middle School

Learn about the new #TXNSI CollaborativeThe Dana Center has joined Educate Texas and Learning Forward in building a network of public school educators and leaders to improve secondary mathematics education in North Texas, especially for Latino, African American, and low-income students. The inaugural 2018–2019 Texas Network School Improvement Collaborative (TXNSI) is supported by a Networks for School Improvement (NSI) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

High failure rates in Algebra I, usually a requirement in 8th or 9th grade, often stand as a barrier to student success in high school and beyond. The TXNSI collaboration will work with 10 school and district teams to identify the most critical barriers to student success and then assist those teams in creating closely targeted improvements addressing those problems.

Learn more about this important collaboration.
What We're Reading
Advocating for Active Learning

The majority of first-time, full-time students who enroll in STEM degree programs switch to non-STEM majors within their first two years of college. The most common reason given for changing majors is negative experiences in introductory courses, such as freshman-level biology, calculus, and chemistry. 

One approach to shifting this trend relies on the use of active learning strategies to relate mathematics to real-world applications. The Dana Center’s Martha Ellis and Rebecca Hartzler were recently featured in an INSIGHT Into Diversity article exploring how these strategies can help boost students’ performance in gateway math courses.

Read the INSIGHT Into Diversity article here.

Math – The “Tip of the Spear” for Leading Reforms in Southern Maine

A news spotlight from Achieving the Dream (ATD) takes a close look at the mathematics pathways work of Southern Maine Community College (SMCC). Closely supported by the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways in cooperation with ATD, SMCC has been able to implement five math pathways options just over a year after the initial Designing Math Pathways workshop.

Read the Achieving the Dream article here.
Save The Date!
Mathematics Reform in the First Two Years of College – Attend
the Summit

AMATYC websiteMathematics reform in the first two years of college brings challenges that many faculty leaders deal with on a daily basis. While some reforms are successful, others struggle in their implementation. Regardless of success, all colleges need to assess the results of their courses and improve practices.

In the two days leading up to the 2018 AMATYC Conference, workshops organized by the Dana Center, the Carnegie Foundation, the Mathematics Association of America, the National Center for Developmental Education, Paul Nolting, and AMATYC will focus on implementing, assessing, and improving mathematics course redesigns.

The Third National Mathematics Summit for Math in the First Two Years will take place November 13–14 in Orlando. Learn more about the Summit and how to register here.

Working with Employers to Align Students’ Math Training with
Industry Needs

On October 12, in collaboration with Educate Texas and Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, the Dana Center will host a convening in Abilene, Texas. This meeting will identify and solidify the mathematical and quantitative skills that industry leaders in West Texas want their future employees to possess. Higher education leaders and math faculty will join manufacturing industry leaders to discuss employer needs and align these competencies with appropriate math courses at community colleges and universities.
In Case You Missed It

Students often do not see how mathematics applies to their future aspirations and careers. Demonstrating clearly how math is used in day-to-day work to solve real-world problems can motivate students to continue being active learners.

Enter MathPaths, a video series that highlights successful professionals in STEM fields who use mathematics in their work every day. They share what motivated them to develop math proficiencies and how math has enriched their lives. These engaging personalities help students see how math connects to their own world.

Share MathPaths with your students today.

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