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A Central Texas student studies in an advanced level math course

UT Austin and E3 Alliance Improve Math Proficiency for College Readiness

Project Overview

The Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin and E3 Alliance are redefining regional math pathways in Central Texas, ensuring alignment from K-12 through college, so that thousands more students can demonstrate college readiness in math and have the preparation to succeed in college.

A student’s level of math proficiency in high school is a strong predictor of success in college. According to research by E3 Alliance, students who took and passed Algebra II as their highest math in high school had just a one in five chance or getting any postsecondary credential within six years of graduation. Students with Pre-Calculus were nearly twice as a likely to complete their college degrees, while students with Calculus were more than three times as likely to complete.

Achieving district and higher education commitments to policy and practice changes will be a huge win for the students of Texas. It will mean that more low-income students and students of color in Texas will be on the pathway to achieving a postsecondary credential.

Susan Dawson, president and executive director of E3 Alliance

How it Helps

Advanced math courses can have an outsized impact on which students will persist and ultimately earn their college degrees. In Central Texas, these outcomes will also determine if the local workforce is prepared to meet the needs of employers, and if residents will be able to take advantage of new jobs close to home. By 2030, more than 60% of all new jobs in Texas will require postsecondary education, yet only 42% of Texans aged 25-34 have an associate degree or higher. Only 12% of low-income high school graduates receive any degree or certificate within six years of graduation.

Math matters — but there are many reasons students may not sign up for these advanced level courses. For one, students need a higher level of math proficiency than the state requires for high school graduation. Students and families may also be unaware of the benefits of rigorous math education. This begins with building a strong foundation in elementary and middle school, so students are prepared for more advanced coursework in high school.

To build stronger math pathways in Central Texas, the Dana Center and E3 Alliance bring together K-12 and higher education leaders through the Central Texas Mathematics Alignment Task Force (CTXMAT). The task force aims to improve alignment of math courses and expectations so that Central Texas students are on track for college success.

Creating the Math Pathway

To lay the groundwork for student success in Central Texas, task force priorities include:

  • Refining local criteria for college readiness in mathematics and student success skills
  • Aligning high school and college math courses and expectations for students’ levels of proficiency based on their academic and career goals and the expectations of employers
  • Ensuring that high school math course offerings and advising practices reflect multiple mathematics pathways to student success
  • Developing data practices that will make it possible to act in accordance with the policies, priorities, and practices of school districts, institutions of higher education, and the state
  • Increasing the percentage of students who are college ready in mathematics and complete coursework aligned with their college and career aspirations

The processes developed for course alignment, common assessment, and skills training as well as local and state policy will be replicable in other parts of the state and across the country. Further, this effort is serving as an example for the nation in creating a cohesive regional alignment platform to address equal math access goals and student success.

Foundation Project Lead