How Three States are Implementing High School Transition Mathematics Courses in Response to COVID-19

Profiles of Georgia, Texas, and Washington

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented and profound impact on students and families, educators, and educational institutions across the nation. Severe disruptions starting in the spring of 2020 and continuing today are affecting every dimension of teaching and learning. Existing inequities based on race and ethnicity, socioeconomic level, language, and other factors have been exacerbated and students of color – especially Black, Latinx, and Native American students – continue to be disproportionately affected. High school students, particularly juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing postsecondary educational and career opportunities, are uniquely impacted by the current situation.

The successful completion of high school mathematics courses is essential to pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities and successfully entering the workforce. Students must complete specific courses to meet high school graduation requirements and qualify for admission at certain institutions of higher education. Furthermore, broad knowledge of mathematics concepts and skills has become increasingly important to a growing number of fields of study and their related professions. Unfortunately, our current system of mathematics education is failing to meet the needs of many of our students. As a result of inequitable opportunities to learn and also misaligned and outdated mathematics requirements and policies, far too few students are learning the mathematical and quantitative skills needed to pursue education beyond high school and successfully earn a credential or degree with value in the labor market. These issues with mathematics education coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have significant implications on students’ ability to complete high school graduation requirements and prepare themselves to enroll in credit-bearing, rigorous postsecondary courses.

Transition mathematics courses, which are designed to provide additional academic support to high school seniors before graduation, serve as a potential and important solution for meeting the dual challenges of equitably supporting students through the pandemic and increasing access to postsecondary opportunities. This brief highlights the efforts of three states – Georgia, Washington, and Texas – to implement new strategies to offer high-quality, rigorous senior year transition mathematics courses while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The included profiles present information about strategies implemented in each state to support educators and enhance their capacity to deliver high-quality instruction in virtual and hybrid learning environments, address essential issues of equity and access, and respond to unexpected challenges related to the pandemic.