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Solving for Equity: Design and Implementation of New Postsecondary Math Pathways

Mathematics education has been a distinct source of inequity, often serving as a gatekeeper to college admissions and academic majors for traditionally marginalized students, especially Black and Latinx students. 

As numerous state postsecondary systems are redesigning college mathematics, including expanding options beyond the traditional path through Calculus, Just Equations’ report, Solving For Equity: Design and Implementation of New Postsecondary Math Pathways, highlights key strategies to build rigorous, relevant math sequences that enhance education equity: 

  • Using inclusive definitions of rigor and relevance in the design of math pathways, which can include calculus, statistics, data science, or discrete math.
  • Eliminating remedial math courses in favor of just-in-time supports such as corequisite courses.
  • Promoting positive math classroom experiences by making course content relevant to students’ social contexts and intended area of study, while addressing faculty implicit bias. 
  • Actively recruiting and providing support for students traditionally underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, education, and mathematics) fields, to ensure that those options are truly open to them. 

Solving For Equity report authors Mina Dadgar, Dina Buck and Pamela Burdman synthesized emerging research as well as interviews with leading experts on postsecondary mathematics pathways, including researchers and practitioners who work directly with students. The report also includes clear criteria for ensuring both rigor and equity in math pathway design. 

“Postsecondary math pathways will not reach their highest potential—or ensure students can do so—unless they are implemented in equitable ways,” the authors explain. “Solving for equity in the implementation of postsecondary math pathways is an unfinished project. But the practices and strategies needed to ensure more equitable math outcomes are within the reach of postsecondary institutions and states, if they direct their resources toward the goal of racial equity.” 

Future studies by the Just Equations research team will continue to examine strategies that expand math opportunities for college students, especially marginalized students.

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