HLC Self Study
Chapter 6 Graphic

Partnerships to Improve Learning

Estrella Mountain Community College recognizes that collaborating with high schools in the West Valley is essential to promoting effective learning for a significant portion of its student population. Although the College is focusing initially on math, it will expand its efforts to include English and reading in the near future.

Math Summit

A combination of factors find many students placed into developmental level courses. Concerns about this problem prompted the West Valley Think Tank (WVTT) to share and discuss potential pipeline and curriculum alignment issues challenging areas in mathematics, reading and writing. West Valley Think Tank membership consists of:

  • Estrella Mountain Community College administrators
  • Glendale Community College administrators
  • Phoenix College administrators
  • K-12 superintendents
  • Arizona State University faculty

As a result of WVTT discussions, Estrella Mountain hosted a Math Summit in February 2010 during which more than 100 P-20 instructors, curriculum support staff and administrators met and began discussions about mathematics curriculum alignment. A follow-up math conference was held in June 2010, where 51 P-20 faculty, curriculum specialists and administrators met and discussed various topics, including the following:

  • Improving/increasing opportunities for faculty professional development
  • Determining where gaps in assessment and placement exist in the pipeline
  • Examining processes to improve student goal setting at all levels
  • Understanding what is actually taught at various levels

A conference dedicated to the professional development of K-12 teachers is currently in the planning stages for 2011.

Curriculum Gap Analysis

Curriculum Gap Analysis is another effort to improve mathematics success.  The overall goal of this project is to determine where curriculum gaps exist among local high schools and Estrella Mountain Community College. Specifically, the College is performing a gap analysis of math curriculum as it exists in high school and then in college. This will provide insight in terms of how to better prepare students for success in math courses, both at the high school and college levels.

With support from the local high schools, Estrella Mountain has obtained transcripts from more than 100 students from seven high school districts and several charter schools. Analyses have been performed on a number of variables that may influence student success, including but not limited to:

  • The number and level of math courses taken in high school
  • Overall GPA in math courses and the math Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) scores
  • Placement and grades in math courses taken at Estrella Mountain

Although the number of transcripts is small, early results indicate that 60 percent of the reviewed transcripts show that students were placed in a lower level of math at the college level than that which they completed in high school. Of 81 students, 80 achieved “meets standard” on the AIMS test, yet 41 percent placed into developmental math. An analysis of grades indicates that an average GPA of 2.50 in a high school math course predicts above average success (i.e., getting an A or B in the first math class) at Estrella Mountain. These results continue to be examined and discussed as part of the West Valley Math Summit.