Special to the Register
For the past three years, Eastern Kentucky University has assisted more than 50 high schools throughout the region in designing and implementing transitional math courses to help students prepare for college courses.
The impact has been profound: a 36.3-percent drop in enrollment in developmental math courses at Eastern and, because those courses do not count toward graduation requirements, a cost savings of approximately $3.5 million for students and their families.
University officials anticipate a similar positive impact on retention and graduation rates at EKU.
“EKU is extremely pleased with the success of our math transition program,” Provost Dr. Janna Vice said. “In addition to helping us increase our students’ retention and graduation rates, this initiative reflects the university’s commitment to our service region, to the Council on Postsecondary Education’s Strategic Agenda and to the college-readiness goals of Senate Bill 1, which mandate reducing the number of college freshmen needing academic remediation.”
At the time that Senate Bill 1 was approved in 2009, the dropout rate for EKU students when enrolled in developmental courses was an astonishing 60 percent. The failure rate for first-time developmental math students was the same.
With those figures in mind, faculty on the EKU math education team began working closely with their high school counterparts to develop transition courses that roughly aligned with EKU developmental courses, allowing for adaptation to the specific needs and conditions in each high school. The EKU faculty provided materials such as worksheets, class notes and measurement instruments (quizzes and tests) for the teachers.
“Long-term and sustainable change is best attained when the change is embedded, bottom up, has input from the local stakeholders and is based on sound research and principles,” said Dr. Robert Thomas of the EKU Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “These curricula contain all of these components.”
Dr. John Wade, dean of EKU’s College of Arts and Sciences, said the mathematics transition program “has been successful from day one and is spreading quickly throughout Kentucky high schools. It is an important part of EKU’s regional stewardship efforts and is saving prospective college students and their families millions of dollars by eliminating unnecessary college coursework in math.”
The university also provided entrée into the Kentucky Online Testing (KyOTE) system for pre- and post-testing, diagnostics and scores for developmental and non-developmental placement (initially recognized by EKU and Northern Kentucky University for math placement, now recognized statewide by all post-secondary institutions). EKU also added components for automaticity, numeracy, math fluency, college readiness, and self-directed learning.
In the Fall 2010 semester, 1,274 EKU students were enrolled in developmental math courses. By Fall 2012, that number had dropped to 811.
Other EKU math initiatives involving area K-12 schools include:
• K-9 high school readiness initiative, which combines a comprehensive basic skills initiative centered on automaticity, numeracy and mathematics fluency and a comprehensive testing and remediation program.
• 6-12 math initiative, focusing on needs-based placement. Additional level goals of College Algebra Readiness (ACT score of 22) and Calculus Readiness (ACT score of 25) are integral to this initiative focusing on grades 6-12.
• Transformational Model Program, a combination of initiatives focused on a transformational teaching mode (for KDE Recovery Schools).