Math Jam is Honored as America's Top Program at Increasing Latino Student Success in College

Tue, 1 October, 2013 at 7:28 am

Elected officials and higher education leaders from across the country came together at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel in Washington, D.C., today to honor the Math Jam program at Cañada College as America’s top program for increasing achievement for Latino students at the associate level. 

Math Jam was selected from among 165 programs from 22 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, nominated at three academic levels: associate, bachelor, and graduate. Conceived and run by Excelencia in Education, this is the only national initiative to systematically identify, recognize, and catalogue evidence-based programs that improve Latino college success. The organization produced this video to illustrate the power of the program.

Cañada College, a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution, created the Math Jam program in 2009 to address the low level of math preparation of underrepresented students studying STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Initially it was designed as an intensive math placement preparation program and has since evolved into a campus-wide math success program, serving students in pre-algebra through advanced calculus.

“Math Jam has completely changed my view of my future,” said Joanna Peet, a biomedical engineering major. “When I came to Cañada, I wanted to get a personal training certificate and now, because of Math Jam and the love of math that it has given me, I want to become a biomedical engineer.”

The first Math Jam illustrated the power of the program. Nearly 94 percent of the students who took the math placement test a second time scored higher after completing the two-week program. More than 63 percent improved their scores enough to be placed into a higher math course than their pre-Math Jam results. In 2010, the program had grown to 129 students with similar success rates.

Today, the college has added evening Math Jam sessions as well as two additional one-week mini-Math Jam sessions, both day and evening, serving more than 300 students.

“It has decreased the time from enrollment to transfer by allowing students the opportunity to retake the math placement test and in 60 percent of cases skip ahead to the next math level,” said Danni Redding Lapuz, project director for Math Jam. “It has increased retention and persistence rates for students and more students are achieving success in their math courses.”

Math Professor Denise Hum said the program has had a huge impact on how students perceive math at the college. “It definitely seems like it is cool to like math,” she said. “In terms of what it does for students in the classroom, it helps students who wouldn’t typically feel confident as math students, gain confidence and skills.”

Today’s announcement event, Celebraciòn de Excelencia, coincided with the release of the 2013 edition of “What Works for Latino Student Success in Higher Education,” a compendium of all 22 recognized programs along with the evidence of their success. Through this annual process, Excelencia in Education continues to grow America’s largest inventory of programs and strategies that education leaders, policymakers, and others tap into to accelerate degree completion among Latinos.

This is the eighth annual release of Examples of Excelencia.  Excelencia in Education has systematically reviewed more than 500 programs to identify and recognize over 100 programs and departments that demonstrate with evidence that they effectively boost Latino enrollment, performance and graduation.

"As America’s fastest growing minority, Latinos are a true asset for our country, and their educational success will be critical for the future economic success of all Americans,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), chairman of the Education and Labor Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and member of the House Committee on Education and The Workforce.  “By identifying and sharing these examples of how we can improve college success for Latinos, Excelencia in Education is helping ensure the future not only for the Latino community, but for the whole country.”

“Cañada College is at the forefront of meeting the challenge of improving higher educational achievement for Latino students,” said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education.  “No longer should policymakers and institutional leaders ask how to improve college success for Latinos – we have the largest accumulation of proven examples and tested strategies that show them how.  Today’s question is do leaders have the will to put these practices into action.”

To download “What Works for Latino Student Success in Higher Education,” which includes detailed information about all of the programs recognized today, visit

“This compendium is a central component of the Examples of Excelencia initiative,” said Deborah Santiago, vice president of Excelencia in Education and author of the publication.  “By sharing what works, we hope to prompt educators and policymakers to challenge the current status of Latino achievement in higher education and inspire these decision makers to work to increase Latino student success.”

Examples of Excelencia is the only national initiative to systematically identify and promote evidence-based programs and departments effectively boosting Latino enrollment, performance and graduation.  The 2013 sponsors are ACT, Southwest Airlines, TG, USA Funds, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, EduK, Univision Communications, College Board, Inceptia and New Futuro.
Posted in: Featured, Mathematics, Studentexperiences