Define goals.
Step 1

Determine which pathways are needed.

The leadership team defines what mathematics pathways are needed at its institution. If there is a statewide or regional effort to establish pathways, it is likely that the pathways have been defined. For example, Indiana’s Math Innovation Council defined 5 mathematics pathwaysview full resourceDownloadFile across their public higher education institutions in their mathematics task force recommendations report.

At this point, there may still be many unknowns. Do not allow uncertainties to prevent thinking broadly. Determine what information can be obtained quickly and move forward. For example, an institution may need a pathway leading to calculus, a quantitative reasoning pathway, and a technical mathematics pathway, but there is uncertainty about getting sufficient numbers to justify a full statistics pathway. Determining the answer to this question may require learning about statistics pathways at other institutions or facilitating discussions with individual partner disciplines and transfer partners. In such a case, it is appropriate to move forward by implementing the three known mathematics pathways and include statistics as a tentative pathway pending further research.


Step 2

Set a vision and goals for scaling mathematics pathways.

Setting a vision for scaling signals a transformation and communicates an institution’s collective transition to a new normative practice. The leadership team uses the information gathered and reviewed in Essential Action 4 to help the campus community develop a shared view and general understanding of what mathematics pathways means and what the institutional goals will be. Faculty and staff should start to see what the pathways will look like when implemented and have an idea about how the changes will benefit students and affect themselves.

The initial goals may be based on imperfect information, especially in terms of alignment of the pathways to programs of study. At first, the leadership team makes its best prediction of how programs will align over time, which will help estimate how many students will be in each pathway. These estimates will be revised as the work of alignment begins.

Use A Guide for Setting Goals for Scalingview full resourceDownloadFile to support your institutional leadership team’s effort to set long-term goals. The tool provides a structure and process to set goals for mathematics pathways at your college. Below is a sample vision statement and sample goal statements for year one of math pathways implementation.

Institutional Vision Statement All students have equitable access to and the opportunity for success in rigorous mathematics pathways that afford them the means to achieve their full potential and to meet their academic and career goals.
Institutional Goal Statements for Year One of Math Pathways Implementation

By spring 2019, our institution will:

  • Set College Algebra (CA) or Quantitative Reasoning (QR) as the default introductory college-level math course aligned to top 10 programs of study. *
  • Ensure students are appropriately advised into the default introductory college-level math course aligned to their program of study.
  • Ensure our institution’s mathematics pathways align with key transfer partners to support both transfer and applicability of math credits to programs of study.
  • Implement College Algebra and Quantitative Reasoning corequisite courses for a majority of underprepared students to complete their first college level math course in 1 year or less.

*Institution will set Year Two implementation goals to address next top 10 programs of study for evolving alignment of math courses to relevant programs of study.

The leadership team should consider the needs of underprepared students entering multiple mathematics pathways.

  • What is the percentage of entering students that are underprepared for introductory college-level mathematics?
  • What is the developmental course sequence necessary for these students to be prepared to enter rigorous and relevant mathematics course requirement(s) for their programs of study? Is co-requisite remediation offered?
  • Are underprepared students able to complete their developmental course sequence and introductory college-level mathematics course in one year or less?
  • What are staffing resources (i.e., personnel) to support underprepared students?

Although the team may wonder if it should delay setting goals for scale until there is more information about alignment, we strongly recommend not delaying. Most faculty and staff are unfamiliar with what it means to establish a new normative practice. Explicit information about what the “new norm” will look like helps everyone understand the breadth and depth of the work and how they need to prepare.

Include occasions for stakeholders to review the vision and goals to ensure that they clearly articulate the team’s intentions. Reviewers can use the questions below to guide them:

  1. If applicable, are the goals meeting institutional commitments for state-level action towards mathematics pathways implementation?
  2. Are the statements clear and precise?
  3. Will the goals serve students well?
  4. Are the goals ambitious but reasonable?


Discusses a state–level understanding of normative practice.

provides a structure and process to set long-term institutional goals for mathematics pathways.

Provides an overview efforts to ensure math pathways become standard institutional practice.

displays an example of how a variety of institutions aligned mathematics pathways with their programs of study.

Step 3

Create a high-level strategic plan to meet the scaling goals.

The final step for Essential Action 5 is to create a plan for scaling the institution’s goals. We recommend making a long-term plan for 3 to 5 years with high-level action steps and milestones. A more detailed plan for each year is addressed in Essential Action 6.

When developing a strategic plan, keep in mind these critical issues:

  • Design with the end in mind.
  • Find ways to actively engage stakeholders.
  • Use multiple avenues to communicate the plan.
  • Consider implementing at full scale rather than incrementally.