Posts published on April 5, 2012

Community College Students Can Take New Statistics Courses Rather Than Algebra

by Sue Frey/EdSource Extra
Some California colleges are helping struggling math students complete all the math they need in a single yearlong course, instead of requiring them to take the usual sequence of courses that can take years to complete and that many never finish.

First offered during the current academic year, the course is called Statway — short for Statistics Pathway — and is aimed at students who are not ready for college-level math. So far, five community colleges and three CSU campuses are participating in this national initiative, which is being developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, located in the foothills above Stanford University. Statway wraps the usual two-course sequence of elementary and intermediate algebra into a year-long statistics course. The Statway project is part of a $13 million initiative that has attracted support from a number of foundations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Community college students majoring in the humanities or social sciences must pass intermediate algebra to earn an associate degree and a college-level math course — typically statistics — for transfer credit to California State University. The Statway course satisfies both those requirements and, for many CSU students, will also be the only course they will need to meet the math requirement for a B.A. degree. The course is tackling what has become a major obstacle for many students: getting stuck in the standard course progression from elementary algebra to intermediate algebra to a college-level course, such as statistics. An EdSource analysis of data from the state’s 112 community colleges found that only 55 percent of students who enrolled in a math course that they could apply toward an associate degree or use to transfer passed it during the fall 2010 term. (more)