GRAND ISLAND-Central Community College is launching a new math sequence during its 2019 spring semester, which begins Jan. 7.

Prior to this semester, CCC students whose placement scores show they needed additional preparation before going into college-level classes were directed into a foundations class, “Math Essentials,” no matter what their educational or career goals actually required.

That’s now changing with the piloting of a redesigned math sequence called Math Paths, which splits “Math Essentials” into two options: practical math and pre-algebra.

Practical math is for students who need to meet prerequisites for associate of applied science degrees in business, occupational and technical programs. Pre-algebra is for students planning to transfer to a four-year institution.

Also, because “Math Essentials” was a five-credit class, it was difficult for students to work it into their schedules. This is something that should be easier since the two new classes are each worth three credits.

“The whole idea is to shorten the path for students,” said math instructor Rachel Brown. “The longer they spend in foundations math, the less likely they are to finish math.”

This pilot program was made possible by the CCC Board of Governors and college administration giving the math faculty the green light – and the latitude and support – to make improvements.

The math faculty took the task seriously, meeting throughout last summer to write the curriculum and choose the textbooks for both classes. To ensure the practical math course was relevant, they also met with skilled and technical science faculty.

“It was good to hear from these instructors,” Brown said. “As math instructors, we know math is useful to them, but we didn’t know the specifics. They showed us how math fits into their programs.”

Now the math faculty are working on the third course that is part of the Math Path options: pre-statistics, which won’t be offered until the 2019 fall semester. Whether a student goes into this class or into pre-algebra will be determined by their major and the transferring institution.

“And there’s one other piece we’re still exploring and that’s a co-requisite,” said Brown, explaining this option would allow students to get through some business, occupational and technical courses without having to take the full-blown practical math class. “It’s an option for down the road.”