July 27, 2012 –
Los Medanos College has hit another snag with UC articulation of its accelerated pre-statistics course, Path2Stats. According to Monica Lin, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Los Medanos has until summer 2013 to address questions about the course as a pre-requisite for transfer-level statistics.
In April, UC Office of the President (UCOP) had accepted the determination of Los Medanos faculty that Path2Stats was “equivalent” to intermediate algebra as a pre-requisite for statistics (story below). This decision was not a change in the UC policy, which requires that all transferable math courses have a pre-requisite of “intermediate algebra or the equivalent”; instead, it was a clarification regarding implementation, recognizing that determinations of equivalence are the purview of local community college faculty.
However, in a statement on the articulation list-serve at the end of May, Lin wrote that reconsideration of this decision came after intervention by the statewide leadership of the Academic Senate of the California Community College system: “At the request of the California Community College Academic Senate (CCCAS) leadership, faculty from all three segments will be discussing the need to set guidelines for the content of prerequisites to transferable courses.”
The California Acceleration Project is in conversation with UCOP to resolve this issue. It is our current understanding that UCOP is not interested in establishing a review process for non-transferable courses that serve as prerequisites for articulated math courses. Since CAP is primarily funded through the state chancellor’s office and its basic skill initiative professional development grant (3CSN), our intention is to work with UCOP to develop a solution that keeps the door open to new statistics pathways at Los Medanos and in community colleges throughout the state. CAP is currently working with 16 colleges who are implementing courses similar to Path2Stats.
Path Cleared for Accelerated Pre-Statistics Courses
April 12 2012 –
The University of California Office of the President has informed Los Medanos College that it will not revoke transfer articulation of the college’s statistics course, reversing an earlier action it had taken against the college. The move by UC opens the way for other community colleges to shorten and redesign their remedial mathematics curricula to increase student completion.
“The implications of this decision are significant,” says Katie Hern, Director of the California Acceleration Project. “Many community colleges have been hesitant to develop an accelerated pre-statistics course because of concerns about their transfer articulation. What we have in the Los Medanos case is a fire-tested precedent and a path for moving ahead.”
UC requires intermediate algebra or the equivalent as a pre-requisite for any transferable math course, and Los Medanos was the first in California to use the policy’s “or equivalent” language to offer an accelerated pre-statistics course, Path2Stats.
The class, offered since 2009, is intended for students who will take statistics to fulfill their college math requirement – typically those in majors outside the science, technology, engineering, math, and business fields. Rather than enrolling in the standard 3-4 semester remedial arithmetic/algebra pipeline, Los Medanos students can take this open-access, 6-unit course and then move directly to transfer-level statistics.
Path2Stats was developed in response to two problems facing community colleges nationwide: 1) the widely acknowledged curricular misalignment between the remedial algebra sequence and statistics, and 2) staggeringly low completion rates among students placed in remedial mathematics. Nationwide, fewer than 10% of community college students who start 3 or more levels below college math ever complete a transferable math course (never mind their longer term goal). In California, these bleak outcomes disproportionately impact Black and Latino students, more than half of whom are placed 3-4 levels below college Math.
After the initial action against Los Medanos, the California Acceleration Project contacted the UC Office of the President to discuss the importance of this issue for improving student equity and completion in community colleges. We explained that the community colleges working with the California Acceleration Project have been operating from the belief that they have the purview to establish equivalency in non-transferable pre-requisite coursework. We described the process Los Medanos had followed when creating Path2Stats:
“Faculty in the mathematics department and curriculum committee carefully vetted the course. They noted that concepts from pre-algebra, elementary algebra and intermediate algebra are contextualized into elementary data analysis…. Los Medanos faculty were aware of the UC TCA [Transfer Course Agreement] requirement of intermediate algebra or the equivalent as a pre-requisite for UC-transferable math courses, and they judged the course to be equivalent to intermediate algebra in depth, scope, and rigor. A key factor in their process for approving the new course was that the transfer-level course was unchanged. They were committed to preserving the rigor and integrity of the transferable course while strengthening students’ preparation for that course.”
We also provided student outcomes from the first three cohorts of Path2Stats, which confirm that the course better prepares students for statistics than the traditional algebra sequence.
In early April, CAP leaders Katie Hern and Myra Snell received an email from Monica Lin, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Articulation, and Eligibility for the UC Office of the President.
“We are encouraged by your reports of the success that the California Acceleration Project has seen thus far,” Lin wrote, “and hope your expanding efforts will continue to support students in their educational pursuits at the CCCs and UC.”
Lin’s email communicated that UC has accepted the Los Medanos faculty determination of equivalency. It also clarified that if a new pre-requisite is to be added for transfer-level statistics, colleges should use the annual Transfer Course Agreement update process to submit a new course outline with updated pre-requisites. This update should inform UC that local mathematics faculty have determined the new pre-requisite to be equivalent to intermediate algebra.
“The community college system urgently needs reforms like Path2Stats,” says Hern. “We are thrilled with the precedent set by the resolution of this issue.”