Thursday, December 20, 2012

Alternative Pathways vs Common Core State Standards

A primary goal of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to provide a curriculum to ensure that all high school graduates are college and career ready. The CCSS  math topics through grade 11 include not only all of the topics of the traditional U.S. Algebra 1-Geometry-Algebra 2 sequence, but also topics typically taught in courses named trigonometry and statistics.

Alternative pathways provide a means for non-STEM (i.e., non- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students to transfer from a two-year college to a four-year institution and earn a bachelor's degree without needing to show mastery of traditional intermediate algebra topics. The promotion of alternative pathways challenges the premise that the CCSS for math are needed for all students to be college ready.

The common goal of both alternative pathways and the CCSS is to improve U.S. education.

 "Core Principles for Transforming Remedial Education: A Joint Statement" from the Charles A. Dana Center, Complete College America, Inc., Education Commission of the States, and Jobs for the Future, calls for revamping the two-year college remediation structure.  The paper lists seven Core Principals for a "fundamentally new approach for ensuring that all students are ready for and can successfully complete college-level work that leads to a postsecondary credential of value.

"...Principle 2. The content in required gateway courses should align with a student’s academic program of study — particularly in math.

"Gateway courses provide a foundation for a program of study, and students should expect that the skills they develop in gateway courses are relevant to their chosen program. On many campuses, remedial education is constructed as single curricular pathways into gateway math or English courses.

"The curricular pathways often include content that is not essential for students to be successful in their chosen program of study. Consequently, many students are tripped up in their pursuit of a credential while studying content that they do not need. Institutions need to focus on getting students into the right math and the right English.

"This issue is of particular concern in mathematics, which is generally considered the most significant barrier to college success for remedial education students. At many campuses, remedial math is geared toward student preparation for college algebra. However for many programs of study, college algebra should not be a required gateway course when a course in statistics or quantitative literacy would be more appropriate….

"...One final note: Postsecondary leaders must work closely with K–12, adult basic education, and other training systems to reduce the need for remediation before students enroll in their institutions.  Postsecondary institutions should leverage the Common Core State Standards by working with K–12 schools to improve the skills of their students before they graduate from high school. Early assessment of students in high school, using existing placement exams and eventually the Common Core college and career readiness assessments, which lead to customized academic skill development during the senior year, should be a priority for states. Similar strategies should be employed in adult basic education and English as a second language programs."

1 comment:

Bruce Yoshiwara said...

An article about Common Core State Standards, largely focusing on how the new standards impact colleges and universities: