3801 Campus Drive • Waco, Texas 76705 • 254.867.2001|800.792.8784 • 254.867.3044 fax
|For Immediate release
|Contact: Mary Drennon
||Date: Nov. 9, 2009
Changes in math program adding up to success
(WACO) — It’s no secret among academics that more U.S. students entering college require remedial math than ever before. In fact, according to ACT Inc. — the organization responsible for the standardized achievement exam used for college admissions — a recent study showed that just 42 percent of entering students are ready for college-level algebra.
But, if preliminary reports are any indication, a group of Texas State Technical College teachers are changing a negative into a positive. In slightly more than one year, implemented changes are showing significant score increases for freshman students taking remedial math.
Already, dramatic results have emerged, from a failure rate of 61 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009. Consequently, other scores also are showing significant improvement: completion rate for all remedial classes in 2009 was 91 percent, up from 82 percent in 2008, and passing rates climbed to 52 percent in the spring of 2009, up from 22 percent in 2008.
So, what made the difference?
“It was not one ingredient that made the difference for students,” said Dr. Garry Sigler, department chair of the TSTC Math Department. “TSTC has changed the dynamics of the remedial classroom, implementing several changes that have worked in concert to bring scores up.”
The crux of the changes means TSTC instructors have shifted the learning responsibility back to the student, said Sigler, making them accountable for turning in all homework and keeping up with all assignments.
Teachers also switched from a self-paced style of learning to lecture-based classes, implemented web-based “Mastery Homework” assignments, reduced the class sized to less than 28 and changed the amount of class hours to include a lab where students get more attention and extra practice. In addition, all new hires must have accelerated teaching credentials in working with special populations.
Already, the changes — and the scores — are getting the attention of other schools. Sigler said he’s received several calls from other teachers wanting to learn more, and he’s been invited to conduct a poster presentation in Las Vegas, where he will present his information at the 35th annual conference of the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges Nov. 12 through 15.
“The TSTC math department has made major changes in the way developmental courses were being presented in the past,” said Sigler. “By promoting excellence through innovative program strategies, TSTC has improved student outcomes. Not only does it bring up scores, but when students taste success, they are less likely to get discouraged and drop out.”
To find out more about what TSTC is doing with its developmental math work, contact Sigler at (254) 867-3028.
Texas State Technical College Waco, part of the only state-supported technical college system in Texas, offers specialized, hands-on instructional courses leading to Associate of Applied Science degrees and Certificates of Completion. Visit www.waco.tstc.edu or call (800) 792-8784 or (254) 867-3371 for more information.