Sails logo with image of hand writing on glass with math equation

Successful Initiative Focuses on Math Literacy

Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS): A Community College/High School Collaboration

The Challenge

Each year, 70% of Tennessee students entering college after high school graduation require remediation in math. The three-year graduation rate for students placed in remedial math upon matriculation to community college hovers at a dismal five percent. Translation: these students are not going to make it.

An Elegant Solution

Under the leadership of President Jim Catanzaro, faculty at Chattanooga State worked together with local high school math faculty to design an integrated math course. By embedding the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Learning Support Math competencies in the high school Bridge Math course, high school students can remove all deficiencies in mathematics and hit the ground running when they start college.

In a SAILS classroom, students who have struggled in math can become successful. Replacing lectures with a technology based, self-paced instructional environment, the program blends online instruction with individual assistance to give students the help they need.

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Deb Weiss, Red Bank High School math teacher, was the very first SAILS teacher/facilitator. The SAILS model utilizes a facilitated hybrid model of instruction, which maximizes student engagement with the content.

The Impact 

With support from the Department of Education, Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Legislature and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Governor’s Office funded a statewide scale-up with $1.124 million as part of his Drive to 55 initiative.

In year one of SAILS Math TN, all 13 institutions in the Tennessee Community College System partnered with 118 high schools serving 8,400 students. With just half of the school year over, results have been impressive. Approximately 2,500 of the 6,003 students who started in the fall term have already completed the entire program — 2,400 more students started their SAILS course in the spring. SAILS Math TN is attracting national attention for its innovative and practical solution to the college readiness problem.

Governor Haslam recognized the SAILS project in his State of the State Address on February 3 and has included $2.58 million in next year’s budget to fund year two. In the 2014-2015 academic year, the SAILS Project expects to serve 12,000 students in 150 high schools across the state with the ultimate goal of impacting 30,000 students each year. Governor Haslam reported SAILS could save Tennessee students $3.5 million a year in college tuition by reducing the number of students who need remedial math.

Chattanooga State is leading the way in transforming the college-readiness landscape in the State of Tennessee with our successful math literacy initiative.

 -Dr. Robert Denn, Dean of Honors and Special Programs

updated April 8, 2014: new title for Dr. Denn


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