Changing Developmental Math From a Gatekeeper to a Bridge

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New math pathways to address barriers students face in successfully completing college math requirements

At community colleges, the majority of new students are considered underprepared for math and must take remedial math classes. Few students who take these courses progress into college math and achieve their educational goals. How can educators and policymakers change developmental math from a gatekeeper to a bridge helping students successfully complete college math requirements?

This webinar highlights innovative strategies and policies community colleges are implementing across the country to create new developmental math pathways that use engaging content aligned to students’ fields of study and reduce barriers to college success. Presenters will provide considerations and lessons learned for audience members thinking about implementing new math pathways for their students.


During the webinar, Michelle Hodara of Education Northwest and author of the REL Northwest study, What Predicts Participation in Developmental Education Among Recent High School Graduates at Community College? Lessons from Oregon, highlights research on how traditional delivery of developmental math affects community college students’ academic and labor market outcomes.

Jenna Cullinane, the higher education policy and strategy lead at the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, describes a set of principles that can be used to guide developmental math reform and lead to the design and implementation of new math pathways. Cullinane shares information about efforts to scale these pathways at community colleges in Texas and states across the country, including Washington and Montana.

Doug Nelson, a veteran math educator at Central Oregon Community College, shares the story of Oregon’s grassroots, faculty-led efforts to design and adopt an alternative math pathway for students pursuing non-STEM degrees, as well as efforts to offer these courses in Oregon high schools to re-engage high school students in relevant math and prepare them for college.

Intended audience

The audience for this webinar includes secondary and postsecondary state agency representatives, college administrators, policymakers, math faculty, and postsecondary education stakeholders.