May 18 – 20, 2005

 

ITEM 127-128-R0505                  Mathematics Proficiency from Two-Year to Four-Year Programs

 

THAT:                                       The Board of Regents of Higher Education approves the following mathematics proficiency statement to assist students as they move from two-year to four-year degree programs:

 

“Students who have been denied admission to a four-year degree program in the Montana University System, because they do not meet the mathematics proficiency standards set out in Board of Regents’ Policy 301.15, may prove that they have the appropriate proficiency in the following ways:

 

(1)           earn a C- grade or better in a college course entitled Intermediate Algebra or Algebra for College Students; or

(2)           earn a C- grade or better in a mathematics course that satisfies the general education program requirements described in Policy 301.10; or

(3)           earn a score of 18 or above on the mathematics portion of the ACT test or 440 on the mathematics portion of the SAT test; or

(4)           complete an A.A. or A.S. degree.

 

“The above-described standards will also be used to determine mathematics proficiency when students move from two-year programs or campuses to four-year programs or campuses.”

 

In addition, the Board of Regents of Higher Education clarifies Policy 301.15, concerning mathematics proficiency, by specifying that the 15% exemption pool for first-time, full-time undergraduate students “with special talents, minorities and others who demonstrate special needs” can be used for students who do not satisfy the mathematics proficiency expectations for four-year degree programs.

 

EXPLANATION:                        The Board of Regents of Higher Education adopted mathematics proficiency standards for admission to four-year programs in the Montana University System at its July 2003 meeting.  The impact of that decision was modified initially, for the 2003 – 2004 academic year, by permitting the campuses to use their exemption authority to admit traditional high school students who did not meet the new proficiency expectations.

 

Students admitted to four-year programs this year, however, are expected to meet the mathematics proficiency expectation, unless they fall into the three (3) exemption categories listed in the policy.  Students who do not meet the mathematics standard can still be admitted to two-year programs; but before they can move on to a four-year degree, they must be able to demonstrate that they have the requisite mathematics proficiency.  The proposed statement sets out the various ways that a student may prove that proficiency.

 

The Board of Regents needs to approve such a statement so students know what they can do to continue their educational plans, if that is what they want to do.  That direction is especially important now, since the first group of students is being admitted to the Montana University System under the new mathematics proficiency expectations.  The campuses also need guidance as they work with students who plan to make the transition from a two-year to a four-year degree program.

 

The standard was developed with the assistance of mathematics professors from two and four-year campuses in the Montana University System, the community colleges and the tribal colleges.  Several of those professors also served on the initial work group that developed the mathematics proficiency policy for the Montana University System.

 

The work group that developed these standards strongly recommended that the minimum grade in the standards should be a “C” not a “C-.”  The recommendation was changed, as this item was prepared for the Board’s consideration, to insure consistency with other policies being reviewed by the Regents’ at this meeting.  The Board of Regents certainly has the option to accept the recommendation of the mathematics work group.

 

The Board is also being asked to clarify the “15% exemption pool,” as it applies to the mathematics proficiency policy.  When that policy was adopted, in July 2003, the Board of Regents specifically authorized the three (3) exemptions that are set out in the Policy.  I.E., non-traditional students, summer only students and part-time students.  It did not make a decision about the “15% exemption” that is available to campuses as they apply the admissions standards spelled out for four-year campuses.   This item was prepared so that the exemption pool also applies to the mathematics proficiency standard, simply so the issue is framed for the Board.  Extending the 15% exemption to include the mathematics proficiency expectation makes some sense, particularly since some campuses have received documentation from students with learning disabilities asking for accommodation when testing for mathematics skills.  Those students would almost certainly meet the definition of demonstrated special need.  Clarification would help the campuses, since the issue was not addressed at the time the mathematics proficiency standards were adopted by the Board of Regents.