Adding up to success

Adding up to success

Cleveland State math program could help high school seniors

February 11th, 2010 by Joan Garrett McClane in News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A area college president says that when Tennessee schools begin to enforce new standards for high school graduation, community colleges should offer remedial math for high school seniors.

"We are not trying to do their business, but K-12 and higher education need to work better together to get the students through faster," Dr. Carl Hite, president of Cleveland State Community College, said.

State education leaders are supportive of the idea.

"We are going to have to partner any way we can to help find enough math teachers to give everyone four credits," said Dr. Gary Nixon, executive director for the state Board of Education.

Under the new Tennessee Diploma Project standards, all students must have four years of math to graduate and must take the ACT in their junior year.

Students who score lower than 19 on the ACT will be placed in remedial math, or "bridge courses," as seniors so they are ready for college-level courses when they graduate.

Officials at Cleveland State, which has been recognized nationally for its interactive math developmental curriculum, said they are trying to learn whether area school districts might be interested in such a partnership.

Chattanooga State Community College, which is developing a new math curriculum, is working with Cleveland State to reach out to Hamilton County schools, Dr. Hite said.

"The students we get to college level coming out of high school will not cost the state to take the developmental courses," said Dr. Hite. "It slows the progress down for those who have to graduate."

Dr. Nixon said the state school board is developing a bridge curriculum but may look into partnering with community colleges.

Cleveland State's new math curriculum cut costs by requiring fewer instructors and has improved student success, officials said.

"(This idea) just makes good sense," said David Wright, associate executive director of policy, planning and research the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. "There are so many costs woven into remedial instruction. It costs the state to fund the course, and it costs the students in time and tuition."

Dr. Hite said it would be easy to implement Cleveland State's math curriculum in local high schools because it is computer based.

"Rather than reinventing the wheel, we have something that has been very successful," Dr. Hite said.

MATH PARTNERS

Cleveland State Community College wants to partner with Hamilton County Schools to offer math curriculum for high school seniors who will need remedial classes.

The big question is who will pay for the classes. They don't count as college credit so can't come under dual enrollment. And schools might not be able to afford to contract with Cleveland State teachers, Dr. Nixon said.

If the state is awarded federal Race to the Top funding, some of that money may be used to hire math teachers or Cleveland State instructors who can oversee bridge courses, he said.

Tennessee has applied for as much as $500 million in Race to the Top money. The funds go to states that show innovation, academic progress and high teacher standards.