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HOWARD UNIVERSITY EXPANDS COLLEGE MATH COURSE
Photo Credit – Freepik
Howard University’s partnership with nonprofit National Education Equity Lab enables high school students in historically underserved communities to access rigorous, engaging algebra, while earning college credit at no cost.
Howard University announced the launch of a credit-bearing college algebra course for high school students, developed in partnership with Khan Academy and delivered to high schools in historically underserved communities by the National Education Equity Lab. Based on the success of a pilot this past spring, Howard’s College Algebra I will be available to all interested high schools in the National Education Equity Lab network for the spring 2023 semester. This semester, 11 high schools are offering the inaugural course, giving students the opportunity to master college-level coursework, earn college credits, and gain confidence.
The effort is rooted in a growing body of research, which finds that math proficiency often poses a critical barrier to college completion and entry into STEM-related careers, particularly in historically underserved communities. Estimates suggest that half of all college students don’t earn a passing grade in required algebra courses, preventing them from graduating or taking the higher-level math courses that are a gateway to high-earning careers in science, technology, and engineering fields.
Dr. Wayne Frederick, Howard University’s president, who also serves on the Ed Equity Lab Board, said the university is an enthusiastic leader of this effort because “it’s probably the most scalable opportunity that I’ve come across during my tenure at Howard … [and because students] join a community that is backing them and providing them with that confidence that is so key to their success.”
Students progress through the course via the Khan Academy platform under the guidance of their high school teachers, meet weekly on Zoom with Howard University teaching fellows (who are undergraduate and graduate students), and take paper-and-pencil midterms and finals from Howard University.
Dr. Bourama Toni, Chair of Howard University’s Department of Mathematics, who helps lead this effort at Howard, said: “The gating effect of math is a concerning, yet solvable, problem. This effort will help open doors of opportunity to under-resourced students around the nation who too often are gated out of educational and professional opportunities because they lack the requisite math training, by no fault of their own. We want to empower high school students to pass college algebra, and know that they can take on anything after that.”
Khan Academy founder Sal Khan said, “It’s exciting to see high school students succeed at college-level algebra. These students are showing us what’s possible when we provide an opportunity for them to pursue a personalized learning plan with guidance from their teachers and teaching fellows. What’s more, they’re getting free college credit from Howard University.”
The course was developed as part of a national education justice effort led by the National Education Equity Lab that delivers and supports college credit-bearing courses from top colleges and universities into teacher-led high school classrooms in underserved high schools at scale and at no cost to students. Currently, Howard University also partners with the Ed Equity Lab to deliver courses in Criminal Justice and Environmental Studies to high schools across the country. Ed Equity Lab partners with pioneering colleges and universities to deliver and support college credit-bearing courses as part of this national education equity effort, including Howard University, Stanford University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Cornell University, Brown University, Spelman College, Barnard/Columbia University, Arizona State University, and Harvard (inaugural pilot course).
“This effort is about helping the higher education system reach down into the country’s most underserved school districts, to help break down the ‘math barriers’ that too often prevent talented students from pursuing their college and career aspirations,” said Leslie Cornfeld, founder and CEO of National Education Equity Lab. “We are excited to offer this course to the schools in our network.”
In the pilot program last spring, 79 high school students took the Howard University – Khan Academy College Algebra I course. More than 90 percent of students who started the course completed it, and over 80 percent of those students earned widely transferable college credits and a transcript from Howard University.
Based on the success of that pilot, the number of students taking the course this semester has doubled. The Lab will open up the course to all interested Title I and Title I-eligible high schools for the spring 2023 semester. Participating schools for fall 2022 include:
- A-Tech High School, New York City, New York
- Fordham High School for the Arts, New York City, New York
- KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy, Newark, New Jersey
- KIPP Newark Lab High School, Newark, New Jersey
- Mastery Charter Schools-Pickett Campus, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ● Origins High School, New York City, New York
- Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology, Paterson, New Jersey ● South Pointe High School, Phoenix, Arizona
- The High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media, New York City, New York
- Vanguard High School, New York City, New York
- World Academy for Total Community Health High School, New York City, New York
Intel and Insight Enterprises provided support for the pilot’s first year. Intel funded laptop kits for students and teachers, configuring and deploying the devices. In addition, students received backpacks and headsets.
“Intel has committed to expand digital readiness to reach 30 million people in 30,000 institutions in 30 countries,” said Intel’s executive director of government partnerships and initiatives, Brian Gonzalez. “This commitment is part of the company’s 2030 Goals and Global Impact Challenges that underscore Intel’s aim to make technology fully inclusive and to expand digital readiness to people worldwide. Ensuring students have opportunities to continue their education and have the support they need throughout their academic career is essential to future innovation.”
Megan Amdahl, Insight Enterprises senior vice president of North America partner alliances and transformation, said, “Our Reach program is dedicated to enabling youth through technology, and this partnership is a prime example of our efforts to unlock opportunities for students in accessing high-quality education and vital digital resources. Technology can — and should — be a force for good, and this pilot program shows how investing in a modernized delivery of traditional curriculum can have immediate, tangible benefits when it comes to learning critical skills across core STEM subjects like mathematics.”