Study: Over 90 pct. of fresh graduates enter developmental math at college


Education Commissioner Glenn Muña and Northern Marianas College interim president Frankie Eliptico sign a memorandum of understanding to provide transitional math courses to high school students in preparation for college. (Contributed Photo)

The Northern Marianas College and the Public School System have entered into an agreement for a specialized math course for high school students entering NMC, after a Hawaii-based research firm noted that more than 90 percent of local high school graduates are entered into developmental math courses once they go into NMC.

A study published by Regional Educational Laboratory Program Pacific, a Honolulu-based education research firm, noted 92 percent of PSS graduates are placed in developmental math courses upon enrolling at NMC.

To help remedy the situation, both PSS and NMC agreed to support both the co-design and implementation of a high school math transition course to increase the number of high school graduates who start with college-level math courses at NMC.

According to a memorandum of understanding signed between NMC and PSS last Jan. 25, 92 percent of PSS high school juniors who took the NMC math placement test in spring 2018 only qualified for developmental math courses. That means their math skills are not college-ready and they will need to undergo math tutorials from basic arithmetic, to pre-algebra, elementary algebra, and then intermediate algebra.

In an April 2017 study titled, “Comparing enrollment, characteristics, and academic outcomes of students in developmental courses and those in credit-bearing courses at Northern Marianas College,” REL Pacific noted that students who started in credit-bearing math courses at NMC are much more likely to graduate with a college degree.

“There are a number of cooperative activities that both NMC and PSS have engaged in since coming together five years ago to prepare high school graduates for successful transitions to college,” said Leo Pangelinan of REL Pacific. Pangelinan was a former dean at NMC and reportedly does contracted work with REL Pacific.

When asked for comments about the new accord between PSS and NMC, Pangelinan said in an email to Saipan Tribune: “This new project is a major step forward for the CNMI and should result in higher numbers of high school graduates starting in college-level math.”

“Over time, this course should contribute to reducing the time and money it takes to earn a college degree,” he added.

REL Pacific is a major partner of the CNMI to “better align the K-12 system with college and the workforce.”

According to Pangelinan, the math transition course would be piloted in at least one PSS school in the fall 2019 semester.

“The aim during academic year 2020-2021 is for 120 PSS students to successfully complete the transition course and are assured entry into NMC’s [college-level math course],” he noted.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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