PSU and Partners to Help High School Students Make Choices for Success

November 28th, 2005 by Adam

Plymouth, N.H. — High school can be a confusing time for any young person. In addition to the physical changes and social negotiations of adolescence, this is the time when students are supposed to be choosing what they are actually going to be “when they grow up.” Whether high school students have clearly defined goals or not, are planning to go to college or straight into the workforce, it turns out that they’re going to need to know more math than most of them realize.

To help these students figure out what classes to take before they graduate, the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) put out a request for proposals for projects to address this issue. The request was followed by a “bidders’ conference,” where organizations interested in pursuing a project met with the NHDOE representatives to learn more about goals for the project.

“The state was interested in getting collaborative proposals from a number of institutions which would work together, rather than individual proposals from each college,” explains Dr. Richard Evans, professor of mathematics at Plymouth State University and co-director of the NH-IMPACT Center. The accepted proposal, “Making the Transition from High School to College,” came from a partnership between the IMPACT Center at Plymouth State, Keene State College, the University of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Community and Technical College System and 10 high schools from across the state. Evans is principal investigator of the two year, $510, 000 grant from NHDOE and the U.S. Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnership program.

The team will look at which math courses students take (or don’t take) at the 10 high schools, which include Colebrook, Contoocook Valley, Laconia, Littleton, Monadnock Regional, Nashua, Salem, Timberlane Regional and Winnisquam Regional. They will also research the math requirements for courses students take in college, and identify gaps in knowledge between math courses taken in high school and college expectations.

“We want to find out how students are making their choices,” says Evans. “We also want to help students understand how a lack of math will affect their career options. Whether you’re going to a four-year college or a two-year technical program, you’re going to need it. We want to better inform students, parents and teachers to help them make intelligent career choices.”

Once this data is understood, team members will identify standards-based programs for mathematics faculty from each institution to take back to their classrooms and their colleagues. To complement these programs, the project will establish a program to bring scientists, mathematicians and engineers together with high school teachers, to help broaden their knowledge of math applications.

For more information, contact Dr. Richard Evans at (603) 535-2487 or evans@plymouth.edu.

# # #