HAYWARD, Calif. -- (Business Wire) — Finding that student achievement in mathematics from third grade through middle school worsened during 2009 in the East Bay area, the Gateways Cradle to Career Education and Workforce Partnership has designed a “roadmap to success” to improve student achievement and economic development in the region.

Data in the report show that by ethnicity and district, third-grade math achievement varied by about 40 points (ranging from 44 to 86 percent). Performance disparities by race and gender in eighth-grade math achievement worsened to a 49-point difference (from 20 to 69 percent) in algebra 1, which is considered a key predictor of future academic and career success.

In evaluating socioeconomic disparities, the report noted that as many as three-fourths of students received free or reduced-fee meals in one Gateways school district, compared to as little as one in five students in another. (Alameda County has 41 percent of students on meal assistance; while in Contra Costa County 32 percent of students qualify for meal assistance.)

The Gateways Partnership roadmap shows five critical transition points, or “gateways,” from preschool through college where resources can be most efficiently concentrated and leverage support for student success. Three initial strategies are now being pursued through the partnership to bolster learning – both in class and outside – of mathematics and overall technical fluency. They are:

  • Enhancing teacher education and student preparation in mathematics;
  • Providing hands-on learning opportunities at all grade levels;
  • Strengthening school readiness at the transition from preschool to kindergarten.

These findings are included in Gateways Partnership's first annual report, presented at California State University, East Bay on April 14. The university was selected as an anchor institution for this community initiative, supported by a grant from the Living Cities consortium in collaboration with the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities. As one of four demonstration sites nationwide, the partnership exemplifies the university’s regional stewardship commitments, according to Mohammad H. Qayoumi, CSUEB president.

"We believe that enhancing all students' understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be key to improving their opportunity for 21st-century careers and helping regional business and industry to remain competitive globally," said Qayoumi. "This also is an essential requirement for healthy communities and local social and economic vibrancy."

Qayoumi co-chairs the Gateways Partnership steering committee with Matt Lonner, Chevron's manager of global partnership and programs.

"California has experienced great economic turmoil and badly needs to stimulate recovery," Lonner said. "By participating in coalitions and supporting programs to advance science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, particularly in underserved communities, Chevron seeks to help students create a better life for themselves and strengthen their community."

In addition to Chevron, the partners include almost 40 regional, national, and international stakeholder groups including K-12 school districts, county offices of education and higher education, corporations, foundations, and community and public sector agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Gateways Partnership intends to shine a light on best practices needed to move the needle on student performance. The first-year report is a baseline against which progress will be measured. The report also notes socioeconomic challenges students may face.

These additional projects will be supported by a grant from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, also announced April 14. (See separate news release.)

The Gateways Regional Cradle to Career Education and Workforce Partnership 2010 Annual Report to the Community is online at: http://www20.csueastbay.edu/gateways/files/docs/gateways-2010-report.pdf.