Michigan chosen for national initiative aligning student math opportunities, future careers

LANSING—Michigan is one of 20 states chosen to participate in a national educational initiative, the Launch Years Initiative, aimed at aligning math pathways with future career interests.

The initiative is run by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Austin and will be joined in Michigan by the Michigan Community College Association, the Michigan College Access Network, the Michigan Department of Education, and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Sixty by 30.

The initiative aims to address three barriers that stand in the way of student success in math:

  • Students experience inequitable opportunities to learn. Access to high-quality materials, advanced courses, and effective instruction is too often limited for students in high-poverty or majority Black or Latino areas than for students in wealthy or majority white areas.
  • Mathematics is misused in college admissions criteria. Many colleges and universities use mathematics as an admissions gatekeeper. Requirements that prioritize algebraic coursesover other rigorous pathways such as statistics have little to no relation to students’ readiness to succeed in courses that may be more relevant to their career aspirations.
  • Postsecondary readiness policies are inconsistent and misaligned. The definition of postsecondary readiness varies across K–12 and higher education, leading to a wide variety of course requirements. How postsecondary readiness is defined often determines whether a student will be required to repeat courses or be placed in non-college-credit remedial courses.

According to MCAN Executive Director Ryan Fewins-Bliss, “Michigan’s engagement in the Launch Years Initiative will contribute to valuable cross-sector work that improves math transitions, closes racial equity gaps and brings us closer to our state’s Sixty by Thirty goal,” a Gov. Gretchen Whitmer initiative to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 49% today to 60% by 2030.

“Research shows that only 18 percent of Michigan community college students placed in developmental education math courses go on to complete their degree within three years,” Fewins-Bliss said. “By redesigning transitional math courses, we can significantly increase the number of first-year college students who complete a gateway math course in their first year.”

Michigan education leaders will share best practices and collaborate with educational leaders from the 19 other states participating in the effort. The effort will focus on offering alternative math pathways for students, while focusing on modern curriculum and content to allow students to learn math skills that patch their future goals.

“We’re focused on helping Michiganders achieve the postsecondary goals that will help them thrive in their life and career,” said Sarah Szurpicki, director of the Office of Sixty by 30. “This means we’re always looking to make that educational pathway smoother and more aligned with the needs and dreams of students. Without lowering the bar, the Launch Years Initiative will help us ensure we’re taking a common sense and aligned approach to math education in Michigan that helps more people succeed.”

The state previously worked with the Dana Center in 2016 for the “Right Math at the Right Time for Michigan” initiative that focused on strengthening math pathways. The Launch Years initiative will take place over the next three years.

Learn more about the Launch Years initiative at https://www.utdanacenter.org/blog/launch-years.

The Michigan Community College Association is the unified voice for Michigan’s community colleges, empowering members to lead in the areas of student success, talent development, and community vitality.  MCCA exists to strengthen public awareness and recognition of the role of community colleges, and support members in delivering education and training that is responsive to changing labor-market needs. It is focused on fostering collaboration, connection, and partnerships among community colleges and stakeholders. Learn more at www.mcca.org.

MCAN works to improve the futures of Michigan’s students and communities by making college accessible to all. MCAN’s work centers on one main goal: To increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60% by 2030. MCAN engages partners statewide who are committed to systems-level change and the reduction of barriers to increase college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students, and students of color. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.

The Michigan Department of Education supports learners and learning in Michigan. Every learner in Michigan’s public schools will have an inspiring, engaging, and caring learning environment that fosters creative and critical thinkers who believe in their ability to positively influence Michigan and the world beyond. Learn more at www.Michigan.gov/mde.


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