Launch Years: Streamlining the Transition From High School to College Math

The Launch Years initiative seeks to better align the mathematics courses and expectations from high school to postsecondary education to the workforce. The Dana Center at the University of Texas, Education Strategy Group, Achieve, Community College Research Center (CCRC), and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) are collaborating on Launch Years to ensure that all students are successful in completing their first college-level math course within their first year.

Each year, more than 30 percent of students in 2- and 4-year institutions enroll in remedial math courses upon entry. And only 1 in 10 of those students are likely to ever attain a postsecondary credential. Students of color, low-income students, and those that are the first in their family to attend college are more likely than their peers to place into developmental sequences.

This is happening at a time when mathematics has become increasingly important to a growing number of fields of study and their related professions. Employers are looking for more individuals that are comfortable analyzing and communicating data literate. Higher education institutions have recognized this shift and are now moving away from requiring all students to complete Calculus, with a greater focus on Statistics and Quantitative Reasoning. And yet, algebra-intensive courses designed to prepare students for College Algebra and Calculus continue to be the norm in high schools across the country. The objective of Launch Years is to correct that misalignment.

The Initiative has three components, each involving a cross-sector of K-12 and higher education regional, state, and national leaders.

Building Consensus

A Consensus Panel made up of state and national K-12, higher education and workforce leaders is working to develop a new vision for math pathways in high school. The Panel will generate a comprehensive set of recommendations for strategic actions to be taken across sectors to enact that vision at scale, with the goal of increasing student success and mitigating persistent barriers to equity.

Designing and Implementing Courses

The Dana Center has brought together educators from K-12 and higher education to develop and support the implementation of two interrelated approaches to high school mathematics: (1) transition to college mathematics (TCM) course and (2) changes in Algebra II requirements and Algebra II-equivalent pathways (A2EPs). The goal is to create new course pathways that maintain articulation with higher education by guiding students through both a third- and fourth-year math course aligned with common entry-level higher education math courses and mathematics content relevant in today’s economy.

Supporting State Implementation and Scale

Each Launch Years state (GA, TX, and WA) will convene a Steering Committee of K-12 and higher education leaders to set a vision for multiple, high-quality mathematics pathways in high school that prepare students—especially those from traditionally underserved student populations—for postsecondary success. Education Strategy Group will support the Steering Committees in their efforts to identify policies and structures to improve alignment of students’ high school mathematics experiences with their college and career aspirations; increase opportunities that can accelerate students’ progress toward a credential of value; and, ensure that students, parents, and educators understand the value of math pathways in high school.

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