*Changing Equations: How Community Colleges Are Re-thinking College Readiness in Math*, written by Pamela Burdman, is a nice summary of current initiatives attempting to help capable students negotiate developmental math needs to succeed in transfer-level mathematics.

Much of the paper discusses the strategy of alternative
pathways. In this strategy, students pass a course that is identical to, or has
the same content and rigor of, accepted transfer math courses, but instead of first
passing an intermediate algebra course, the students take a math course designed
specifically to prepare them for the transfer course—that preparatory course omits
some standard topics of intermediate algebra which are not necessary to succeed
in the transfer math course.

The initial data on alternative pathways, some cited in

*Changing Equations*, show that a much higher percentage of students initially placed in a developmental math course can pass a transfer level math course following an alternative pathway than by following the traditional chain of prerequisites.
But both the University of California and the California State University systems require that intermediate algebra be a prerequisite for any transferable course. Keeping the intermediate algebra prerequisite based on the data
that have shown success in intermediate algebra is a predictor of college success
is, as pointed out in

*Changing Equations*, following the error of confusing correlation with causation, and in fact the widespread practice of requiring success in intermediate algebra (a.k.a. Algebra 2) as a admissions requirement virtually guarantees the high correlation that has been often noted.
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