As community colleges try to increase graduation rates, one of the greatest challenges they face is improving the success of students in their developmental, or remedial, education programs. The Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP), formerly known as the New Mathways Project, was developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with the Texas Association of Community Colleges. It is focused on the development and implementation of new, accelerated developmental and college-level math pathways that are more aligned with social sciences, health, and liberal arts professions while also providing a revised model for the algebra pathway for students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. It aims to allow community college students who place into developmental mathematics courses and are not pursuing an algebra-intensive degree to complete in one academic year a credit-bearing, transferable mathematics course relevant to their future major or career goals. Students in the DCMP may also take a newly developed student success course meant to support them through math, in their chosen majors, and later in their careers.
MDRC has been working with the Dana Center to study the development and implementation of the DCMP since fall 2012. The research began with a qualitative investigation of nine Texas community colleges, beginning with their preparation for the DCMP in spring 2013 and continuing through its initial implementation in the 2013-2014 academic year. Findings from this work were published in April 2015.
Beginning in fall 2014, MDRC began to evaluate the DCMP more rigorously as one of the three primary research efforts under the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR), funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. A collaborative project of MDRC and the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, CAPR aims to improve knowledge and research about reforms in developmental education assessment, placement, and instruction. The evaluation of the DCMP will be based on a random assignment design and will include research into the implementation of the DCMP at four colleges in Texas, as well as a cost study.