Fresno State is one of 12 universities in the country awarded funding for innovative university-community partnerships that increase student success. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities awarded a $50,000 “Transition to Success: Mathematics” grant that will allow Fresno State to scale up its emerging partnership with the Fresno Unified School District’s mathematics unit.

Three other California State University campuses – Northridge, Los Angeles and San Jose – also won grants.

“Fresno State will develop a national model for student success in mathematics,” said University Provost Lynnette Zelezny. “Our ‘Transition to Success: Mathematics’ award will pave an efficient pathway between university and high school math classrooms.”

Transition to Success: Mathematics targets an entry-level math course, “What Is Mathematics.” Universities nationwide teach similar math courses, many delivered lecture-style. The award will be used to develop “Problem Solving Labs” that extend high school “Performance Tasks,” one of Common Core’s most promising assessment methods, into the university’s “What Is Mathematics” course.

“What is Mathematics” is designed to develop quantitative reasoning concepts essential for students, said Dr. Rajee Amarasinghe, chair of Fresno State’s Department of Mathematics. “The skills honed in that course have critical thinking and real-life applications. These skills will continue to benefit students throughout their coursework and careers.”

The Problem-Solving Labs will deliver small group support tailored to the needs of recent high school graduates. The labs can be a national model of curriculum development to smooth the pathway from high school into university math courses.

“The public universities receiving these grants have undertaken efforts that represent a sea change in the way we think about student success,” said Shari Garmise, vice president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Office of Urban Initiatives and executive director of Urban Serving Universities. “For decades, institutions have applied a nearly singular focus on addressing the academic hurdles students face once they’re enrolled. These institutions are saying that is not enough. We have to work with community partners to ensure students have the necessary instruction to be prepared for the rigor of college coursework.”

In July, representatives from Fresno State and the 11 other universities awarded grants will convene in Washington, D.C. to strategize and collaborate on their initiatives.

For more information contact, Dr. Gil Harootunian, director of University Initiatives at or 559.278.4850.

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