New Mathematics Pathways Intend to Accelerate Postsecondary Student Success

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Ensuring students seamlessly transfer from a state college to a state university is one of many goals outlined by college access and success professionals. Streamlining that process to ensure credits acquired at a state college align to university programs and meet subject-specific requirements is critical to avoid the accumulation of excess credit hours and ensure timely graduation. 

State colleges are often where talented students start their postsecondary education with aspirations to transfer and complete their degree at a four-year university. “The affordability and academic options available to students at Florida’s state colleges makes a postsecondary degree more accessible for students, particularly for minority students and those from low-income households,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “Access is the first step to ensuring more students complete a postsecondary degree and experience career success.” 

For over three decades Florida has implemented a course articulation agreement within and among public postsecondary institutions. The “2+2” articulation between state colleges and universities guarantees a student admission to one of the state’s public universities or Florida College System baccalaureate programs upon completion of an associate in arts (“AA”) degree.  The articulation agreement is reviewed annually and refined to ensure seamless transferability of earned course credits. 

However, when it comes to mathematics, there’s still work to be done to strengthen Florida’s 2+2 pathways for students.  Led by the Florida Student Success Center’s Mathematics Redesign Initiative, more than 90 mathematics faculty, administrators and key stakeholders from Florida’s K-12 system, the Florida College System and the State University System served together in workgroups to develop recommendations in this area. The recommendations ultimately helped to inform legislation that will drive much-needed reform in how students experience, navigate and engage in mathematics pathways in their pursuit of a college degree.    

The 2021 legislation states, “To facilitate seamless transfer of credits, reduce excess credit hours, and ensure students take the courses needed for their future career, the articulation agreement must establish three mathematics pathways for students by aligning mathematics courses to programs, meta-majors, and careers.”  In order to fulfill the legislative mandate, a committee consisting of State University System faculty, faculty of career centers, and faculty from the Florida College System will outline three mathematics pathways and the course sequencing within each pathway to guide students to successful completion of their academic program.  “We know that our students can face a number of challenges to completing their degree, and taking the right mathematics courses for their career goals should not be one of them. The mathematics pathways legislation will help to ensure students take the right math courses to prepare them for success in their chosen academic and career pathways,” said Kathryn S. Hebda, Chancellor of the Florida College System. “We are thrilled that the collaborative work of the Florida Mathematics Re-Design Initiative led by the Florida Student Success Center helped to inform this important step forward in supporting student success in mathematics.”

According to the Education Commission of the States 50-State Comparison: Transfer and Articulation Policies report, Florida is one of only six states to have transfer and articulation policies in the areas of common course numbering, transferability of core lower-division courses, guaranteed transfer of an associate degree, and reverse transfer. Joining Florida in these student success practices is Tennessee, Montana, Kansas, Colorado, and Nevada. “Florida is nationally recognized for its strong systems of articulation and transfer, and we are grateful to Helios Education Foundation for supporting our work to enhance transfer pathways through mathematics re-design,” said Chancellor Hebda. 

Identifying policies and practices that help close academic achievement gaps is essential to ensuring more students in Florida complete a postsecondary degree. “In partnership with the Florida College System’s Student Success Center, Helios Education Foundation is investing in data-driven solutions that intend to close educational equity gaps and empower all students with a high-quality education,” said Luna.