Math in the Real World

Early Findings from a Study of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways

| Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, John Diamond, Elena Serna-Wallender

Until recently, most colleges required students to pass a college-level algebra course in order to earn a degree. As many as 50 percent to 70 percent of community college students enter college unprepared to take these courses, and fewer than 20 percent of such students ever successfully complete a college-level math course; the rest are effectively blocked from achieving a college degree. In 2012, the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin introduced the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP, formerly known as the New Mathways Project), which aims to revise the structure, content, and pedagogy of developmental and college-level math classes in an effort to improve students’ outcomes. In 2014, the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness, with support from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, partnered with the Dana Center to launch a rigorous evaluation of the DCMP. Overall, the findings are encouraging; DCMP students are having qualitatively different classroom experiences from those of students in traditional developmental math courses and enrolling in and passing these courses at higher rates. However, work still needs to be done to ensure that all eligible students are correctly advised into these new pathways and that their math credits will transfer seamlessly to four-year college partners.