Add math, don’t subtract

Pete Costanza

The challenges for every student are different and vary each semester, but for many students the common obstacle is Math. Many students also ask “why do I need algebra?” The clearest reason for many is Algebra 2 is required in order to take statistics, but the creation of Math 27 changed that with “Path to Stats.”

By taking and passing Math 27, instead of going from Algebra 1 to Algebra 2 to Math 34, Introduction to Statistics students were able to take Path to Stats and go straight into Statistics.Beyond removing a timely obstacle, which Math Path also accomplishes — Math 27 also had more instruction that tied directly into the concepts that would be covered in Statistics.

Let’s do some math. In the fall of 2009, according to LMC Math Professor Tue Rust, 507 students attempted Math 12 Pre-algebra, by the end of 2010, only 42 students — 8% of all those who started completed statistics. The figures only lead to one conclusion: the math pipeline structure did not work for the vast majority of students. Rust added that in 2010, the figures rose to 71 out of 120 students completing statistics. Students who took Algebra 2 had a 30% success rate of completing statistics whereas students who took Math 27 had twice that rate.

The number is still not as high as students or faculty would like, but it is clearly worth pursuing — tragically this is precisely what won’t happen. Certain folks in California State Universities fail to recognize the value of Math 27 and all it can mean for students’ success. Their reasoning is that Algebra 2 is the perquisite for Statics at CSUs and if it is not the same for LMC, then our version of Stats must be less somehow.

The truth is Math 27 is something new and it fills a void that existed prior to its creation. The course is on the cutting edge of education like a new equation that bridges a gap in understanding of why so few students are achieving their math goals. Math 27 may not be a cure-all solution, but it is a valuable resource. Algebra 1 and 2 represent worthwhile skill sets, but the fact is few students complete them, so other avenues must be explored to help students reach their goals and transfer to higher institutions.

Path to Stats is a valuable bridge that for now cannot be used by students, which is a waste of not only innovation but a means toward helping them reaching their ultimate goals of completing their education in a way that prepares them to be valuable members of the work-force. Math 27 needs to be restored or modified in a way that re-opens its promising results to students.