Washington Math Pathways

In May 2015, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges approved a strategic plan for math acceleration and success in the community and technical college system. The plan was grounded in existing college and system level work, provided recommendations for supporting the work at scale across the system, and identified metrics for measuring and evaluating progress.

The strategic plan work group generally agreed that any recommendations to the system should not define a “one size fits all” solution but should reinforce good work already underway at the colleges and build some coherence in the work across the system through a clear focus on goals and principles. Through their discussions the task force defined a core framework that shaped the final recommendations in the strategic plan:

  • Build on existing and scalable efforts to redesign math pathways, including curriculum and pedagogy aligned with students’ education and career goals, in order to smooth students’ transition into college-level math and improve their success in college-level math courses.
  • Launch a statewide initiative that engages every community and technical college in a coordinated approach to changes in placement, pathways, and instructional shifts that leads to systemic math achievement improvement efforts.

To help begin the process of implementing the Math Strategic Plan, Washington joined the Mathematics Pathways to Completion (MPC) project. MPC is a project led by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin through which the Dana Center has worked closely with five states—Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Washington—from 2016 through the 2018-19 academic year to extend the work begun in Texas as the New Mathways Project (NMP).

The MPC uses a strategy of organizing a state-level math task force to establish a vision for math pathways in that state. Over the three-year project, the Dana Center has been supporting each state in making that vision a reality at the institutional level, with a goal of dramatically improve the success of students in developmental and gateway mathematics courses by implementing math pathways at scale.  For Washington, the overall vision as defined by the state Task Force in March 2016, is:

Using a faculty-driven and institution-centered approach, we will:

  1. Clarify college level math pathways tailored to students’ academic majors and/or professional and technical program requirements
  2. Identify pre-college curricular pathways aligned to those college-level options
  3. Improve and expand academic and career pathway advising to help students choose math pathways that support their goals
  4. Distribute prioritized recommendations for addressing above goals, working through task force members, system councils and commissions, and faculty networks

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