## Mathematical Literacy WITHOUT a Prerequisite

Starting this Fall (August 2016) my department will begin offering a second version of our Mathematical Literacy course. Our original Math Lit course has a prerequisite similar to beginning algebra (it’s just a little lower). The new course will have NO math prerequisites.

So, here is the story: Last year, we were asked to classify each math course as “remedial, secondary level” or “remedial, elementary level” or neither. This request originates with the financial aid office, which is charged with implementing federal regulations which use those classifications. Our answer was that our pre-algebra course was “remedial, elementary level” because the overwhelming majority of the content corresponded to the middle of the elementary range (K-8). We used the Common Core and the state curriculum standards for this determination, though the result would be the same with any reference standard.

Since students can not count “remedial, elementary level” for their financial aid enrollment status, our decision had a sequence of consequences. One of those results was that our pre-algebra course was eliminated; our last students to ever take pre-algebra at my college finished the course this week.

We could not, of course, leave the situation like that — we would have no option for students who could not qualify for our original Math Literacy course (hundreds of students per year). Originally, we proposed a zero credit replacement course. That course was not approved.

Our original Math Literacy course is Math105. We (quickly!) developed a second version … Math106 “Mathematical Literacy with REVIEW”. Math106 has no math prerequisite at all. (It’s actually got a maximum, not a minimum … students who qualify for beginning algebra can not register for Math106.) The only prerequisites for Math106 are language skills — college level reading (approximately) and minimal writing skills.

Currently, we are designing the curriculum to be delivered in Math106. We are starting with some ‘extra’ class time (6 hours per week instead of 4) and hope to have tutors in the classroom. Don’t ask how the class is going because it has not started yet. I can tell you that we are essentially implementing the MLCS course with coverage of the prerequisite skills, based on the New Life Project course goals & outcomes.

We do hope to do a presentation at our state affiliate conference (MichMATYC, at Delta College on October 15). I would have submitted a presentation proposal for AMATYC, but all of the work on Math106 occurred well after the deadline of Feb 1.

One of the reasons I am posting this is to say: I am very proud of my math colleagues here at LCC who are showing their commitment to students with courage and creativity. We will deliver a course starting August 25 which did not exist anywhere on February 1 of this year.

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