Determination + Math Intervention = College-Ready

Offering developmental math courses in high schools leads to college success.

The numbers are staggering. Sixty percent of Nebraska’s community-college freshmen have to take developmental math courses because they aren’t prepared for college-level math. And only ten percent of those students will end up graduating or completing a program of study. Yet all high school students are required to take at least three years of math and pass their classes in order to graduate.

Something isn’t adding up. Why are entering freshmen lacking the foundation for college-level math? And what will it take to help them better prepare for their required courses?

One answer could be the Nebraska Math Readiness Project (NMRP), a math intervention in the senior level of high school for students identified as “not ready” for college level math. The NMRP is a collaboration between all six Nebraska community colleges and 30 high schools across 20 Nebraska school districts that has resulted in a preparatory math curriculum offered to high school students who plan to attend college.

This pilot program, which is being supported by a grant from Peter Kiewit Foundation, isn’t your typical math class. It’s an individualized learning approach that combines an online course within a classroom setting with coaching and personal instruction by a math teacher. The course includes videos, readings, pretests and finals. Thanks to the grant, the program is free to participating students.

We’re creating a pathway for motivated yet underserved students who have had a difficult time with math. Ultimately, we want students to be able to get into college, stay in college and graduate.”

Michael A. Flesch
Dean of Math and Natural Sciences at Metropolitan Community College

In the initiative’s first year, 373 students enrolled in the curriculum. Seventy-five percent of those students made significant progress in their mastery of math concepts and applications, and one-third of those students are now ready to enter college credit-bearing math courses.

“The cost and time savings for students is huge,” said Corey Hatt, Nebraska Math Readiness Project Director. “I’ve done the math — students collectively saved 545 credit hours and $63,252. Hours, money and a lack of confidence were major hurdles that these students were able to overcome.”

With plans for expanding the initiative underway, an external evaluation team was brought in to help improve and evolve the program.

“Our ultimate goal is to reach every high school student in the state of Nebraska who is motivated to go to college but doesn’t have the necessary math background to do so,” said Hatt. “We know this program has the potential to help so many students succeed. And when they succeed, we all succeed.”

Nebraska Math Readiness Project Training course for high school teachers, counselors, administrators and college liaisons.

“Our ultimate goal is to reach every high school student in the state of Nebraska who is motivated to go to college but doesn’t have the necessary math background to do so. We know this program has the potential to help so many students succeed. And when they succeed, we all succeed.”

Corey Hatt
Nebraska Math Readiness Project Director