The New Mathways Project (NMP) is an initiative of The University of Texas at Austin's Charles A. Dana Center that is achieving dramatic results. After NMP was implemented in Texas, three times as many students successfully completed a college-credit-bearing math course within one year. In some cases, the success rate was five times higher than the state average. The Dana Center has since expanded the project to 11 additional states.
Algebra is a roadblock on the path to college completion for far too many students. Some students attempt it several times before passing the course, spending extra time and money. Others never complete the class—or a degree.
This dilemma persists whether students are already prepared for college-level math or have to begin in developmental education, and whether their ultimate goal is a license, certificate, associate's degree, transfer to a four-year program, a bachelor's degree, or beyond. Unless students are majoring in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field, proficiency in algebra- and calculus-based mathematics is rarely required of today's professions.
Students are more likely to succeed in math and in college when coursework reflects their academic and career goals. Multiple math pathways provide students the opportunity to complete relevant and rigorous course sequences that emphasize quantitative reasoning for fine arts and liberal arts majors, statistical reasoning for social science majors, and algebraic reasoning for STEM or math-intensive majors.
4 Principles of
- Relevance of mathematics to students' academic program
- Acceleration to complete a college-level math course in one year or less
- Support for student learning
- Evidence-based pedagogy and curriculum design
Reforming developmental and gateway mathematics education requires coordinated effort between two-year institutions, four-year institutions, policymakers and other key stakeholders. The Dana Center's New Mathways Project takes a state-level approach to improving student success and completion by addressing the policy and practice barriers across systems, while simultaneously equipping colleges for change. A mathematics task force supports faculty leadership, establishes the vision and generates the momentum to promote modern math pathways statewide.
Since 2016, we’ve committed over $2 million to support the Dana Center's effort to scale the New Mathways Project across the state of Arkansas. We expect NMP to significantly boost student success in mathematics, both by making sure the content students are learning is relevant to their major and by accelerating underprepared students through college-level courses in one year or less. Our funds supplement a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that allowed five new states to adopt the NMP model: Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington.
The Dana Center provides tools, resources and services to support a state through each phase of the NMP mobilization process. Through spring 2019, the Dana Center collaborated with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Arkansas Community Colleges (ACC), and the ACC Center for Student Success to develop a statewide agenda for establishing pathways that will propel more undergraduate students to complete course requirements and earn degrees and certificates. In fall 2019, we allocated funds for two years of technical assistance to support transfer reform work, build regional networks, provide professional development opportunities and conduct data analysis on student outcomes.
An October 2018 report, “Mathematics Pathways to Completion: Setting the Conditions for Statewide Reform in Higher Education,” details much of the Dana Center’s work and explores what state-level structures and policies could help states implement new mathways. As a result of their effort on this project, Arkansas has been awarded additional funding from The Kresge Foundation to implement co-requisite courses and join Strong Start to Finish as the network’s first Associate Member.
To share in-depth accounts of their work, the Dana Center now publishes a “Notes from the Field” series on their site.
Dana Center's New Math Pathways Mobilization
Contact Senior Program Officer Sue Cui at firstname.lastname@example.org.