Math Transfer and Applicability Work

The Mathematics Pathways To Completion (MPC) project seeks to improve student success in entry-level college mathematics and the completion of a degree or certificate, regardless of program or type of institution. A significant barrier to achieving this goal is the lack of uniform transfer policies and the consistent applicability of math credits between departments and across institutions. Many states have policies in place that are little-used or not uniformly applied that may enhance student transfer.  In order to address these issues, and with guidance and support from Carl Krueger on behalf of the Dana Center, the Washington Transfer and Applicability Working Group was established in 2017 as part of the overall Math Pathways to Completion initiative. The group’s charge was to identify opportunities for and barriers to consistent transfer and applicability of mathematics pathways in the state, with a goal of defining a strategic process or plan for action that builds statewide agreement to address those opportunities and barriers.

Primary Challenges for Washington

  • Data limitations make it difficult to measure student progress in multiple math pathways—need to track intended pathway of students transferring from community colleges to public four-year institutions and their pertinent characteristics, including credit accumulation.
  • To improve transfer from two-year to four-year institutions, we need to understand why students drop out of the pipeline and if it is related to math requirements.
  • It is unclear what the requirements or specific pathways are for the DTA and AS-T degrees; we need to determine if the vast majority of students in Washington are truly “Undecided” upon transfer.

General Questions

  • What role does math play in student transfer (and in what ways is it an obstacle to successful transfer and degree completion)?
  • Broadly speaking, how does a transfer student’s pathway align between their degree or program at a community or technical college and their program of study at the receiving baccalaureate institution?
  • What are common pathways that lead to success for students, and what are the features of those pathways?

Status of Work

During 2017 and 2018 the work group reviewed and discussed math course-taking data (see report below) and drafted final recommendations that were submitted to and approved by the Washington Joint Transfer Council in November 2018. Beginning in spring 2019, a JTC-sponsored Math Advisory Group is beginning the work of clarifying and providing faculty input on the recommendations; updates will be posted to this site as progress is made.

Additional Resources

WA Transfer Math Course_Taking Report

WA Mini-Mathematics Inventory Guide Top 15

General Washington transfer research

Washington Student Achievement Council transfer information

Work Group

Role/Name Institution/Organization
Barbara Alvin Eastern Washington University
Helen Burn Highline College
Janice DeCosmo University of Washington
Anne Gallagher[1] OSPI
Julie Garver[2] Council of Presidents
Ed Harri Whatcom Community College
Joyce Hammer[3] SBCTC
Bill Moore[4] SBCTC
Jane Sherman MPC consultant
Jeff Wagnitz Highline College
Steve VanderStaay Western Washington University

[1] Representing K-12 state superintendent; member of Math Strategic Plan Task Force

[2] Liaison to Joint Transfer Council

[3] Liaison to Joint Transfer Council

[4] Ex officio, Math Pathways to Completion facilitator


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