New Orleans, Louisiana
February 20, 2022
February 20, 2022
July 20, 2022
Technical Session 13 - Paper 2: Program: A focused, 5-year effort to increase the number of African American, Hispanic/Latino(a), Native American (AHLN) 7th-grade students who are academically prepared to take algebra
Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions
Program: A focused, 5-year effort to increase the number of underrepresented 7th-grade students who are academically prepared to take algebra Background In February 2013, more than twenty national science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) organizations were invited by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss priorities for underrepresented minorities in STEM. In October of that same year, these organizations reconvened to discuss a collaborative effort to support K-12 STEM education and increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) students with the prerequisites to pursue STEM. Participants converged on the goal of ensuring that every 7th-grade student in the United States is academically prepared to take algebra. By February 2014, the nine partner organizations that signed on to support the initiative were back at the White House discussing their commitment. Organization 1 and organization 2 piloted the first program in September 2014. However, logistical and resource challenges were experienced, and it was determined that the program was better suited for a University-Industry collaborative effort. Subsequently, the program was resurrected and piloted at the R1 Doctoral University in conjunction with the corporation in Fall 2017. Beginning as 3rd graders in 2017, the initial cohort will be completing the 6th grade this year, and will be eligible for University’s Summer Engineering Workshops in Summer 2021.
The program is designed to be a substantive, high-impact year-long initiative that is highly scalable, replicable, and versatile for diverse organizations and organizational programming models. The PROGRAM centers around common core elements and methodologies, providing sufficient variability to work with each organization's programs, calendars, and constituencies.
Purpose/Hypothesis This article describes the program framework, outcomes, and recommendations for scaling the program beyond the current site at the R1 Doctoral University. The purpose of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented 7th-grade students in the United States that are academically prepared to take algebra. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 2015 math proficiency for Black 12th-grade students was only seven percent. To date, cohorts ranging from grades 3 through 6 are using Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS), a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system, mastering math concepts to accelerate grade level progression by 25 percent annually. Thus, increasing math proficiency, readiness, and opportunities for URMs to pursue STEM-related studies.
The ALEKS tool is not only being used at the primary and secondary education levels for the program, but it also is used at the university level to assess math competency and course placement for incoming first-year engineering students. Therefore, developing a national model which utilizes the ALEKS software at the grade school level will prove to be beneficial as students progress from K-12 to post-secondary education.
Program Design/Method The program incorporates both asynchronous and synchronous learning, addressing existing performance gaps in mathematics, with an ultimate desire to grow the pool of underrepresented minority students interested and eligible to pursue STEM-related fields. Increasing the number of underrepresented engineers and scientists requires early enriching support.
Students, parents/guardians, and mentors represent the core pillars of the program: ● Students maximize learning by engaging in online and in-session learning, group exercises, hands-on projects, meaningful mentor assignments, and exposure to practicing STEM professionals. Mathematics mastery is accelerated through this multi-faceted approach, supporting student growth and attitudes toward learning. ● Mentors facilitate blended learning environments using a combination of web-based and tactile engaging exercises that are designed to support culturally responsive learning environments. Hard work, achievement, and fun are promoted during each session, as math mastery and a growth mindset are supported. ● Parents/guardians attend the program’s sessions with their children. During these sessions, parents/guardians are involved in a separate 'track' of the program. The parent/guardian track involves discussions concerning national trends of math proficiency, reviewing math concepts related to their child's learning objectives, starting early to plan for college, as well as relevant topics related to supporting their child's learning and development at home and at school.
The program objectives are aimed to cumulatively improve student mastery of math concepts by 1.25 years each academic year, resulting in a 5-year advancement in 4 years and algebra readiness in middle school. Additional objectives include improved student performance on Standardized Tests; student academic performance in mathematics and school, writ large; student attitudes towards mathematics and school, writ large; equip students to meet or exceed Common Core State Standards, as well as individual state standards.
Results The most pronounced result is that students and parents/guardians alike have shown a marked improvement in their attitudes toward math. Students form positive relationships with their mentors and fellow students within their cohort, motivating them to engage actively during the in-person sessions and between sessions. The program engages undergraduate and graduate student mentors, who earn a stipend each semester that helps meet the needs of college affordability and provides an opportunity for organizational collaboration to achieve community-based initiatives. Student mentors are also members of student organizations, including, but not limited to the national student societies 1, 2, and 3, as well as other organizations.
The 2020-2021 program has yielded forty-five percent of students achieving student mastery of math concepts by 1.25 this academic year. All students have achieved significant growth, as measured against pre- and post-assessment performance. In addition, the first eligible cohort will attend the R1 Doctoral University’s Summer Engineering Workshops designed to expose participants to the impact of engineering careers and academic success strategies.
Conclusions The program is designed to be a substantive, high-impact year-long initiative that is highly scalable, replicable, and versatile for diverse organizations and organizational programming models. The program centers around common core elements and methodologies, providing sufficient variability to work with each organization's programs, calendars, and constituencies.
Previously piloted programs have demonstrated that the programs’ integrity hinges on the uniform understanding of the importance of integration, acceleration, engagement, and research. Organizations wishing to host such a program must assess the feasibility, scope, needs, requirements, and commitment involved in embarking upon the program.
Recognizing the importance of math proficiency, the program intends to track student pathways towards calculus while offering continued engagement in STEM-related experiences. We realize that the support and resources provided through the program are even more critical, as many students continue to be adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic learning disruptions.
Booth-Womack, V. L., & Johnson Austin, S., & Gibert, R. S., & Stwalley, C. S., & Berhan, L. M., & Markey, T., & Murphy-Ortega, C. (2022, February), Program: A focused, 5-year effort to increase the number of African American, Hispanic/Latino(a), Native American (AHLN) 7th-grade students who are academically prepared to take algebra Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana. https://peer.asee.org/39136
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