Washington's colleges will be partnering with the University of Texas to create seamless, rigorous pathways through college-level math.

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Practically every week, Bill Moore reads another article that examines what amount, and type, of math that college students really need in order to get a degree.

That’s why Moore, director of K-12 partnerships for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), is pleased that Washington recently became one of five new states to join a partnership with the University of Texas’s Dana Center to improve the state’s college math pathways. At the heart of that partnership is making sure college students are getting the type of math they need to be successful in their chosen major.

The Dana Center’s New Mathways Project provides students with choices among several different courses, or course sequences, depending on their majors. Each path offers students rigorous mathematics relevant to their fields of study.

New Mathways is already being used by 50 community college systems and 28 universities in Texas, as well as in seven other states.  In the Texas schools, 23 percent of students successfully completed a college-credit bearing math course within one year. The statewide average had been 8 percent.

Washington’s community college system has been working on ways to improve math pathways for some time. Its programs include I-BEST, a program that allows students to catch up on basic math skills while earning a college credential, and Statway, a statistics pathway with strong results.

Because of all the work being done here, “it’s not so simple as taking their (Dana Center’s) project and plopping it down in Washington,” Moore said. Instead, Washington will use Dana Center expertise to enhance and support what is already happening in Washington. “This will strengthen our efforts to build multiple pathways to math success,” he said.

Moore said the Dana Center’s Mathways takes a “deeper dive into specific mathematics” than what has been done in Washington so far. It also goes beyond the community college level — the math pathways are for four-year colleges and universities, too, and Washington’s public four-year colleges will be included in the partnership.

Moore said the Dana Center has “done a lot of good research, and they have good technical assistance to share.”

The program is being funded by a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and will last for three years. The other states chosen to participate are Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma.