Algebra Success at Pierce (ASAP) is a program that allows students to take both elementary algebra and intermediate algebra in one semester.
Whereas our school (and state) typical success rate is around 50% in each of the two courses, Kathie Yoder has had a 70% success rate at getting students through both classes in one semester.
Her students score higher on the department's standardized intermediate algebra exit exam than students in the regular or online intermediate algebra classes.
In addition to having an exceptional teacher, the students in ASAP have several advantages over their peers in other intermediate algebra classes. ASAP students are all enrolled in both elementary algebra and intermediate algebra (5 units each), Personal Development 40 (3 transferable units taught by counseling faculty), and a 1-unit math study skills course. (Yes, the students meet with Kathie for more than 2.5 hours per day, 4 days per week.) The students are not permitted to enroll in other classes during that semester.
In other words, they are immersed in math for the semester.
The course materials are written by Pierce faculty, designed specifically for this course. There is a Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader who holds study sessions outside the assigned class hours.
Pierce has also had students in a Learning Community experiment that had prealgebra, elementary algebra, or intermediate algebra, teamed with the PD 40 class and 1-unit of study skills. Results were not consistently better than for students in ordinary sections of those courses.
We have had previous experiments with SI leaders in algebra classes, but again with no convincing evidence of effectiveness.
This semester we have a second section of ASAP, and the new instructor, Jenni Martinez, reports very encouraging success on the first two exams.