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September 28, 2017

Symposium to offer lessons on new ‘math pathways’ to central Missouri educators
Colleges and universities have rolled out alternatives to college algebra for many degrees


New options for college math requirements in Missouri will be the focus of a symposium Sept. 29 for educators and academic advisors in the central region of the state.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education will host the symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Moberly Area Community College. Faculty and advisors from local colleges and universities, as well as counselors from area high schools, are expected to attend.

Missouri Math Pathways Regional Symposiums are also planned for Cape Girardeau and St. Louis. Symposiums were held earlier this month in Kansas City and Springfield.

For decades, college algebra has been the required math course for a majority of degree programs.  This fall, most Missouri public colleges and universities rolled out new math requirements for a number of degrees, including English, business and history.

“The symposiums will offer educators an opportunity to learn more about the Math Pathways initiative and the benefits to Missouri students,” said Dr. Rusty Monhollon, assistant commissioner for academic affairs at the Department of Higher Education.

The development of new “math pathways” is supported by a growing number of educators nationwide who believe college algebra is not the best math course for many students, depending on the type of degree they are seeking.  

Higher education officials believe more math options will help increase college completion rates, especially for minority and first-generation college students. College algebra has high withdrawal and failure rates and has prevented many students from finishing a degree, Monhollon said.

Degrees in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – will continue to require algebraic-intensive courses.

Missouri began work on its Math Pathways initiative in 2014 and was one of five states chosen by the Dana Center at the University of Texas in 2016 to participate in a national project focused on developing alternatives to college algebra for specific degree programs.

The department created a task force of math faculty and advisors from colleges and universities across the state to develop recommendations for math courses based on students’ academic major.

Those recommendations include:

  • Statistical reasoning for students whose field of study will require knowledge about collecting, analyzing and interpreting data.

  • Mathematical reasoning and modeling for students studying the humanities.

  • A series of math courses that focuses on the number system, foundations of algebra, basic geometry, and probability and statistics for elementary education majors.

More information about the Missouri Math Pathways initiative can be found at dhe.mo.gov/AAU-Initiatives-MathPathways.php. For more information about the regional symposiums, visit dhe.mo.gov/mathpathwaysregionalmeetings.php.