WWC review of this study

Gaining Ground: Findings from the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways Impact Study

Rutschow, E. Z., Sepanik, S., Deitch, V., Raufman, J., Dukes, D., & Moussa, A. (2019). Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University and MDRC. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED600649

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    1,411
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: May 2021

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Progressing in college outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Math credits earned (college-level)

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,411 students

0.90

0.60

Yes

 
 
8
 
More Outcomes

College credits earned

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,411 students

11.90

11.10

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Math credits earned (college-level)

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Black;
178 students

0.50

0.20

No

--

Math credits earned (college-level)

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Placement test indicates math proficiency is 2 or 3 levels below college-level;
1,188 students

0.80

0.50

Yes

 
 
8

Math credits earned (college-level)

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Hispanic or Latino;
764 students

1.10

0.80

Yes

 
 
7

College credits earned

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Hispanic or Latino;
764 students

13.70

12.60

No

--

College credits earned

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Black;
178 students

9.90

11.00

No

--

Math credits earned (college-level)

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Placement test indicates math proficiency is college-level or 1 level below;
223 students

1.10

1.40

No

--

College credits earned

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Placement test indicates math proficiency is college-level or 1 level below;
223 students

12.90

16.10

No

--

College credits earned

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Placement test indicates math proficiency is 2 or 3 levels below college-level;
1,188 students

11.70

10.10

--

--
Progressing in developmental education outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Completed developmental math sequence

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,411 students

57.00

33.50

Yes

 
 
22
 
More Outcomes

Ever passed college-level math class

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Full sample;
1,411 students

25.30

18.50

Yes

 
 
10
 
Show Supplemental Findings

Completed developmental math sequence

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample (first semester);
1,411 students

47.40

11.40

Yes

 
 
38

Completed developmental math sequence

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Placement test indicates math proficiency is 2 or 3 levels below college-level;
1,188 students

56.50

29.20

Yes

 
 
26

Completed developmental math sequence

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample (second semester);
1,411 students

53.60

28.50

Yes

 
 
24

Completed developmental math sequence

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Hispanic or Latino;
764 students

67.50

41.20

Yes

 
 
24

Ever passed college-level math class

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Black;
178 students

16.70

6.80

No

--

Ever passed college-level math class

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample (second semester);
1,411 students

19.50

8.50

Yes

 
 
22

Completed developmental math sequence

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Black;
178 students

40.20

21.90

Yes

 
 
20

Ever passed college-level math class

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Placement test indicates math proficiency is 2 or 3 levels below college-level;
1,188 students

24.30

14.20

Yes

 
 
16

Ever passed college-level math class

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Hispanic or Latino;
764 students

31.60

25.20

No

--

Ever passed college-level math class

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

Placement test indicates math proficiency is college-level or 1 level below;
223 students

30.40

40.50

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 61%
    Male: 31%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Texas
  • Race
    Black
    13%
    Other or unknown
    74%
    White
    14%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    54%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    46%

Setting

The study was conducted in four community colleges in Texas. Two of the community colleges, Brookhaven and Eastfield, are single-campus schools located in suburban Dallas. El Paso Community College is a large, five-campus community college located in El Paso, a large city. Trinity Valley Community College is a small, rural community college serving five counties with three campuses. These colleges were selected in part because they had prior experience with the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP), they could scale their DCMP program, and they also had a "business as usual" developmental math program that provided a strong contrast to DCMP.

Study sample

The study sample included 1,411 students who enrolled in the study over four semesters—fall 2015, spring 2016, fall 2016, and spring 2017. The intervention group included 856 students and the comparison group included 555 students. Students were 23 years old on average. The majority of students were Hispanic (54%) and female (61%). About 14% were White, 13% were Black, and race was not specified for 74% of students. Sixty-nine percent of students had enrolled in college within a year of high school graduation. Thirty-one percent had failed at least one math class in high school, and 84% of sample members placed two or more levels below college-ready in math.

Intervention Group

The DCMP math sequence began with an accelerated developmental math course, Foundations of Mathematical Reasoning, which combined two developmental math courses into one semester-long course. This course was centered on introductory algebraic, statistics, and quantitative literacy concepts, and content was delivered in a student-centered approach where larger mathematical concepts were presented in narrative form. Moreover, course materials incorporated themes from other academic disciplines such as science and literacy. Upon successful completion of the course, students entered either a one-semester course on (1) college statistics for students majoring in social and health sciences, (2) quantitative reasoning for students majoring in the humanities or liberal arts, or (3) a two-semester path to calculus for students majoring in STEM.

Comparison Group

Students enrolled in the comparison group completed their college’s standard developmental math sequence, which typically began with Beginning Algebra in Semester 1, followed by Intermediate Algebra in Semester 2. These courses were typically taught in a lecture style, where a higher emphasis was placed on the memorization of formulas and algorithms with little to no real-world application or problem-solving.

Support for implementation

All of the colleges had prior experience implementing DCMP. The Dana Center offered a three-day training on the DCMP curricula in three consecutive years (2013, 2014, and 2015). Nearly all of the DCMP faculty in the study had attended this training. Faculty may have attended this training well before the start of this study in fall of 2015. The Dana Center set up an online community for DCMP instructors where instructors could support one another. The Dana Center also organized in-person and virtual meetings where colleges with experience implementing DCMP could mentor and support others. Dana Center staff members visited each college to provide implementation support at least once. Faculty members had access to a mentor who was available for individual meetings.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Rutschow, E.Z. & Diamond, J. (2015). Laying the foundations: Early findings from the New Mathways Project. New York, NY: MDRC.

  • Rutschow, E.Z., Diamond, J. & Serna-Wallender, E. (2017). Math in the real world: Early findings from a study of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways. New York, NY: Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness and MDRC.

  • Rutschow, E.Z. (2018). Making it through: Interim findings on developmental students’ progress to college math with the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways. New York, NY: Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness and MDRC.

 

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