A number of studies have found that high school students across the country rank low in international math knowledge. In fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress finds that more than a third of those tested possess below basic math aptitude. More than 20 percent of college freshmen were found to require remedial mathematics coursework, and 46 percent of high school graduates who enter Washington's two-year colleges directly after high school need to take pre-college math before they are ready for credit math courses. Even more alarming, a student who passes the math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) does not necessarily have the skills needed to handle college level math courses.
The national Transition Mathematics Project (TMP) was designed to help students gain the knowledge and skills needed to move successfully from high school to college math coursework and ultimately into the global workforce.
In 2006, Shoreline Community College and the Shoreline School District received a one-year Transition Math Project grant from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is renewable for up to three years to help high school students move successfully from high school to college math coursework.
The grant provides for the coordination of SCC’s developmental math courses and the high school math courses with the new state readiness standards.
SCC math instructor, Nirmala Savage and Shorecrest High School teacher, Marilyn Leverson are co-directors of the Shoreline Transition Math Project. Now in the second year of the grant, the team is working to compare high school and college courses with the College Readiness Standards so that the gaps can be addressed and transitions can be smoother.
The grant also provided funding for the Social and Economic Science Research Center at Washington State University to track how well high school students from the Shoreline School District transitioned to college coursework at Shoreline. They looked at the relationship between high school math courses taken and grades received, and how well students performed on college math placement tests and subsequent classes at Shoreline.
Findings will be available early in 2008 and once the analysis is studied, the issues will be addressed. These findings will be posted online at www.transitionmathproject.org/standards. Ultimately, the study’s impact will be to improve preparation for college-level work. The desired results are still several years out as new curricula are designed, put into place, and completed by students who then graduate from high school with increased skills.
A team of mathematics instructors at Shoreline have already developed a new course for students at SCC, called Mathematics Success Strategies, Math 081, which students take concurrently with beginning algebra. The class is available fall, winter and spring quarters.
At Shorecrest High School, teachers are teaching related units as modules in their regular math classes. Shoreline faculty and Shorecrest teachers worked together to identify the important elements of Mathematics Success Strategies.
Other activities of Shoreline’s Transition Math Project grant include student outreach efforts and the use of Agile Mind software in Shorecrest math classes.