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A Top-Down/Bottom-Up Approach to Statewide Change: Mathematics Pathways to Completion

A Top-Down/Bottom-Up Approach to Statewide Change: Mathematics Pathways to Completion

This report examines the efforts of six state higher education systems to improve student outcomes and close opportunity gaps in mathematics as part of the Mathematics Pathways to Completion (MPC) project led by the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Each participating state—Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Washington—engaged in cross-sector and cross-institutional collaboration to support the adoption of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) model for undergraduate mathematics instruction at scale.

The Dana Center’s theory of scale combines top-down policy changes that enable reform implementation with bottom-up flexibility that allows individual institutions to adapt and develop approaches to fit their context. Drawing on institutional surveys, self-assessments by state leaders, stakeholder interviews, and project documents, this final report of the MPC project describes how states engaged diverse stakeholders across higher education sectors in the reform, along with challenges and successes resulting from the work. The report’s findings are organized across three phases of state-level work:

  1. building urgency and motivation for change,
  2. setting the conditions for statewide scaling, and
  3. building capacity to implement mathematics pathways at institutions.

While states were just beginning their mathematics pathways implementation at the project’s conclusion, the MPC project provides an example of how higher education systems can work across governance structures and higher education sectors to take on large-scale reform.