UC/CSU Path Cleared for Statistics Pathways

October 2015

Community colleges offering redesigned statistics pathways no longer need to worry about jeopardizing their transfer articulation with the University of California and California State University systems.

Under prior policies, both UC and CSU required a pre-requisite of intermediate algebra for statistics courses, but both systems have released policy updates that clear the way for community colleges to offer the kind of alternative pathways that are producing such strong results in the California Acceleration Project and Statway.

After an extensive review process, the UC system approved the Statway curriculum for transfer in early 2015, and last week they released new Transfer Course Agreement guidelines that require only a small set of preparatory skills for statistics, which can be offered in a prerequisite or as a co-requisite. Intermediate algebra is no longer required.

Today, the CSU Chancellor’s Office released a statement authorizing recognition of statistics pathways as meeting quantitative reasoning requirements for transfer admission and lower division general education through Fall 2019. It noted that this authorization includes the quantitative reasoning requirements under “the Golden Four,” area B4, IGETC, and Associate Degrees for Transfer. Today’s statement expands a previous exception authorizing six community college districts to offer Statway. According to the statement, information gathered during the four-year period will inform a revision to CSU’s permanent policy.

“During this exception period, all California Community Colleges are invited to propose statistics pathways curriculum for transfer credit in Quantitative Reasoning. These courses may be drawn from Carnegie Statway or other, similar approaches, such as the statistics pathways developed by the California Acceleration Project.”

“Transfer articulation policies have been one of the biggest obstacles to scaling up accelerated pathways,” says Myra Snell, Co-Founder of the California Acceleration Project and creator Path2Stats at Los Medanos College, the first statistics pathway in a California community college. “We expect many more colleges to step forward now that they don’t have to worry about their UC and CSU articulation.”

Each year in California, 100,000 of the community college students who start out in remedial math don’t go on to complete a transferable math course. Accelerated Statistics pathways have shown great promise for increasing both completion and equity among students placed into remediation.

A quasi-experimental evaluation of colleges participating in the California Acceleration Project found that students’ odds of completing a transferable math course were 4.5 times higher in CAP statistics pathways than in traditional math remediation. In a subsequent analysis, the researchers found that achievement gaps for African-American students were eliminated in CAP statistics pathways.

CSU and UC policies have been a major driver of community college remediation because of what’s been called “the long arm of the pre-requisite.” A single intermediate algebra pre-requisite has had the effect of mandating up to two years of remedial math courses in community colleges, because intermediate algebra requires a pre-requisite of elementary algebra, which typically requires one to two pre-requisites of its own. And because of curricular misalignment, most of what is covered in those algebra courses isn’t even needed if a student takes Statistics at the college level.

The communications from UC and CSU come at an opportune time for California community colleges. Under AB770 and the Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program, the state legislature has allocated $60 million to community colleges to increase student completion of transfer-level math and English courses, and the legislation specifies accelerating and contextualizing remediation within students’ program of study. The funds, which will be released later this year, can help colleges launch or expand promising, evidence-based practices like the statistics pathways currently offered at approximately 30 colleges statewide.

There may even be time for community colleges to get new pre-statistics courses through curriculum approval this year, to be offered in Fall 2016. Interested faculty are encouraged to contact CAP Co-Founder Myra Snell for support and sample course materials. Email: msnell@losmedanos.edu

New UC Transfer Course Agreement for Statistics

New Statement from the CSU Office of the Chancellor: Statistics Pathways in CSU Quantitative Reasoning Fall 2015

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