MDRC in the News

Program Helps Nebraska High School Students Struggling with Math Prepare for College

Omaha World_Herald

01/2021

Those who find math a mystery might sympathize with high school students who grapple with percentages, fractions, formulas and equations.

Teachers in Nebraska say this is no trifling problem and warn that weak math skills are a key impediment to graduating from college. So Nebraska high schools and colleges have devised a program to help struggling high school students get up to speed in math before they go to college.

All six of Nebraska’s community colleges are involved in the effort, called the Nebraska Math Readiness Project. As of July, 35 high schools were participating, with the University of Nebraska at Omaha providing the team that examines the project’s data. In many cases, the students gain dual credit at their high school and the community college in their area.

Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, senior research associate with the New York-based education research team called MDRC, said weak math skills are a problem nationwide. She reported two years ago, based on her review of studies, that 59% of students in two-year colleges and 33% in four-year colleges take remedial math.

Some students enrolled in such classes don’t complete them, and Zachry Rutschow said last week that it’s likely that many of those students simply drop out of college. Colleges and states view that as a lost opportunity.

“There’s a lot of innovation currently happening in the country” on the topic, she said…..

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