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South Los Angeles Math (SLAM) Project

College Bridge - SLAM Final Report

Executive Summary

“My perception of being college-ready is way different from what I imagined in high school. Seeing the difference of how math is taught at a college level, there is no teacher to tell you to stay awake in class or what you are missing or need to turn in for the class. No extra credit. They teach us how the work is done and expects us to learn this knowledge and be prepared for a quiz or test.”
- SLAM Student

The South Los Angeles Math (SLAM) Project is a nine-year longitudinal study created through a strategic partnership between College Bridge, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and California State University – Los Angeles (CSULA). The overarching purpose of this research project is to learn the best practices to employ in order to increase college access and success for underrepresented students. The strategy is to bridge the high school and university curriculum and leverage the students’ senior year of high school as a catalyst for college success. Students who successfully complete MATH109 earn general education college math credit and satisfy all remediation requirements at any of the CSU’s 23 campuses. This research project is divided into three phases, each consisting of three years, for an aggregate nine-year longitudinal study.  The first three years are the pilot phase. In this phase the goals are to measure the efficacy of the program, analyze various teaching configurations, and determine best practices for scale.  Each year one new school is added to the project with one new cohort of up to 30 students.  To date, 169 students from six cohorts in three urban LAUSD high schools have participated in the project.  To date, Cohorts 1-3 had a college matriculation rate of 82% compared with an average of 54% for the schools served, Cohorts 1-3 had a college math remediation rate of 30% compared to 76% for the control group, and Cohort 1 had a 100% persistence rate from year 1 to year 2 in college (n=27).

In terms of program efficacy, SLAM pass rates are measured against the pass rates at CSULA.  The six cohorts had an average MATH 109 pass rate of 75% compared with an average of 71% for the same course taught at CSULA.  Additional efficacy measures are students’ growth in mathematical practices and self-perception of college readiness.  SLAM students demonstrated a 33% aggregate growth in mathematical practices.  In terms of college readiness, 83% of students reported that the program changed their self-perception of readiness with a total of 92% considering themselves ready after completing the program. A set of teaching configurations were tested to determine how to best sustain and scale the program.  These included (1) a CSULA professor/LAUSD teacher co-teaching team, (2) a trained LAUSD teacher/LAUSD teacher team, and (3) a trained LAUSD teacher alone. Training came from one semester participating in the professor/teacher co-teaching team.  A plan for sustainability of the project was for a LAUSD teacher to become approved to continue teaching the course for college credit after the co-teaching experience with the professor.  Furthermore, scalability was planned as a result of trained LAUSD teachers co-teaching with, and thus training, their peers.  Although no variation in pass rates were found to be attributable to the various models, the professor/teacher co-teaching experience was found as a best practice for professional development.  This finding did not extend to the teacher/teacher configuration. Finally, four best practices were uncovered based on the findings in this study.  They are (1) use concurrent enrollment as a college readiness strategy for underrepresented students, (2) Use the mathematical practices as the curricular foundation, (3) implement a strategic student selection process, and (4) develop a community of practice through bidirectional professional development.