What are mathematics pathways?

Mathematics pathways are part of a growing national movement designed to change the way mathematics is taught in higher education. In the “pathways model,” students are placed into course sequences designed to align with their personal interests, chosen fields of study, and career goals.

Historically, college–level study has required that students, regardless of their academic or career goals, adhere to standardized mathematics course sequences that may not be relevant to their needs. In fact, traditional mathematics courses have been found to be the most significant barrier to degree completion for all fields of study. Read more. view full resourceDownloadFile


The Challenge

Three major factors drive this issue:

  1. Students are often placed inaccurately into “developmental” mathematics courses that are below their ability to perform.
  2. Traditional entry–level math programs are not aligned with students’ mathematical needs.
  3. Long developmental course sequences decrease students’ chances of completing a credit–bearing math course.

student barriers image

LEARN MORE: Read The Case for Mathematics Pathways

Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) aims to help address this challenge by assisting states, higher education systems, and institutions with implementing new course sequences that adhere to four principles:

PRINCIPLE 1: All students, regardless of college readiness, enter directly into mathematics pathways aligned to their programs of study.

PRINCIPLE 2: Students complete their first college–level mathematics requirement in their first year of college.

PRINCIPLE 3: Strategies to support students as learners are integrated into courses and are aligned across the institution.

PRINCIPLE 4: Instruction incorporates evidence–based curriculum and pedagogy.  

Explore the DCMP
Our History

For more than six years, the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) has developed the strategies, collaborations, and tools to guide successful implementation of math pathways across the United States.

The DCMP grew out of the collaboration between the Charles A. Dana Center and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to develop the Statway™ and Quantway™ programs. This fruitful and productive joint enterprise helped the Dana Center better understand the challenges of implementing math pathways at scale. In particular, Uri Treisman, the executive director of the Dana Center, saw a need for increased attention to policy and coordinated action across an entire system.

The Texas Association of Community Colleges  (TACC) stepped forward to work collaboratively with the Dana Center to develop and refine this state–level approach. The Dana Center and TACC launched the New Mathways Project (NMP) in 2011. The reach and impact of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways model owes much to the leadership and commitment of the many college presidents, faculty, administrators, advisors, institutional researchers, and student support staff in Texas who engaged in this early work.

What are the details?

Expand this section to learn more.

Our state–level work led to a paradigm shift from building pathways around a specific curriculum and course structure to defining pathways guided by a set of organizing principles that allow room for local decision making and customization. This shift led to the development of the DCMP model, which is based on four principles. We at the Dana Center refer to this approach as "coherence without uniformity."

Through the work in Texas, we began expanding our view of whom math pathways should serve. While much of the early work focused on increasing success of developmental students at community colleges, we came to understand that all students would benefit from well–designed math pathways aligned to their programs of study regardless of their placement level or type of institution. This understanding broadened our vision to one in which mathematics pathways are the normative practice across all sectors of higher education.

The Dana Center has always been a strong advocate for math pathways nationwide. In 2013, we formally expanded our work outside of Texas through a collaboration with the state of Georgia. We now have conducted work in nearly 20 states and collaborate with a number of national organizations.

Uri and Amy podium_The DCMP page body.png


In 2016, the New Mathways Project was rechristened the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) to reflect the changing landscape in which mathematics pathways are no longer a "new" or experimental concept. Mathematics pathways are now widely accepted as a critical component of modernizing undergraduate mathematics education and are sanctioned by mathematics professional associations, policy agencies, and higher education organizations (visit our National Work page for details).

The DCMP is an umbrella for a number of projects and strands of work at the national level and across different states to implement math pathways aligned with the DCMP model. It embraces work across higher education sectors and functions as we seek to provide faculty, staff, administrators, and policy representatives with the resources, tools, and services necessary to implement high–quality mathematics pathways effectively.

A Coordinated Strategy

The Dana Center Mathematics Pathways encompasses many strands of work spanning policy, institutional change, and course design in a coordinated strategy to:

  • Build momentum, enthusiasm, and legitimacy for mathematics pathways;
  • Identify effective practices for implementation;
  • Create enabling conditions for institutions and departments to implement effective practices; and
  • Offer tools and resources to support action at all levels of the system.

body section The DCMP page_bottom_pillar lady.png

Are you interested in launching math pathways implementation in your state, system, or institution? Contact us to begin the conversation.