The traditional path to college-level math was a dead end for many students at Pierce College, reports Jason Song for the Los Angeles Times. So the community college is trying the Carnegie Foundation’s alternative path to math success, an algebra-and-statistics mix called Statway.
Catalina Daneshfar needs to pass algebra to transfer to a state university. Placed in remedial math at Pierce, she’d hired a tutor and still ended up with a D.
This year, she earned an A in the first semester of Statway. She’s on schedule to earn enough credits to transfer to a Cal State University campus next year. “Statway saved my life,” Daneshfar said. “At the very least, it saved me from another year of school.”
Math is one of the biggest obstacles to success for California’s community college students, reports the Times.
About 73% of freshmen at community colleges need remedial math, according to state statistics, and only about a third of these students end up transferring to a four-year school or graduating with an associate’s degree, according to state figures.
The numbers are worse at Pierce, where only about 13% of students pass enough math courses to transfer, according to professors.
About half of Pierce’s Statway students earn a C or better. That lets them fulfill transfer requirements more quickly than typical remedial students.
The course covers basic and remedial algebra as well as statistics in two semesters and is designed for students who plan to major in liberal arts or non-science fields. Transferring Pierce students normally have to take three semesters of math, generally two semesters of algebra and an elective.
The Cal State system accepts Statway for transfer credit on a temporary basis, but the University of California does not. “So far, Statway has not reached the level of quality we expect,” said George Johnson, a UC Berkeley mechanical engineering professor who has reviewed courses.
Including Pierce, six California community colleges offer Statway: American River College near Sacramento, Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Diablo Valley College in Contra Costa County, Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and San Diego City College.