A major obstacle to the timely completion of an academic degree program is lack of preparedness of students, particularly in the area of math education. Community colleges typically average 60 percent of students requiring developmental (remedial) work; state universities are in the 22–23 percent range; and University of Massachusetts campuses are approximately 10 percent.
Differences are also apparent by race/ethnicity as African-American and Latino students in Massachusetts require developmental education coursework at a considerably higher rate (20 percentage point differential) than white students. This gap is a reflection of the disadvantaged educational background of students that originate from relatively underfunded and underperforming schools.
Remedial math courses cost students money and are non-credit-bearing. They stand in the way of students moving into credit-bearing college courses, and our research shows that students who enroll in developmental math courses are significantly less likely to graduate on a timely basis. Massachusetts is dedicated to transforming developmental education and creating restructured pathways so that students can enter into credit-bearing courses faster and so that we can increase the number of students participating and succeeding in college.
In response to a October 2013 report from the Task Force on Transforming Developmental Math Education, the Board of Higher Education approved a series of pilot initiatives aimed at helping students advance more quickly to credit-bearing courses while obtaining the skills needed for college-level work. The Board voted to:
In January 2016, the Board voted to extend the period of experimentation of the developmental math campus GPA pilots through the 2018-2019 academic year. During this period, public higher education institutions may use the placement standards listed below for recent high school graduates (a student who has graduated from high school within the last three years):
The Board also accepted the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute (UMDI) Final Report, A Qualitative Study on the Developmental Education Strategies in Mathematics Pilot Initiative.
NEW! In December 2018, the Board voted to formally amend the 1998 Common Assessment Policy to allow institutions of public higher education to use the following standards to place students directly into college-level, credit-bearing English and mathematics courses:
The Department of Higher Education, in partnership with the Guided Pathways to Success in STEM TAACCCT Round IV Statewide Office, organized a statewide conference and invited campus administrators and math faculty. The conference highlight promising practices around alternative math pathways, acceleration, alternative placement measures, co-requisite math courses, and other models developed to support our students. Conference materials can be found below.