This multi-institutional collaboration of UW faculty, staff, and administrators is working to improve student success by helping incoming students successfully complete their gateway mathematics course by the end of their first two semesters of study. This initiative builds on many years of foundational work on math education from across the UW System. The Math Initiative works directly with UW institutions to review national models, better meet our students’ needs, and enable them to achieve their educational goals.

The UW System Office of Academic and Student Affairs is providing financial and administrative resources to support the Math Initiative. In January 2018, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates (now Ascendium Education Group) awarded the UW System with a $2.3 million grant to help advance the goals of the Math Initiative through December 2020.

In 2018 UW institutions engaged faculty from arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, math, and other STEM programs as participants on their institutional change teams. In 2019 they engaged faculty from business, education, and nursing, and shared early progress with the UW System Board of Regents. In 2020, they are working on strategies such as active learning and co-requisite math courses to support student success in developmental and gateway mathematics.

Institutional teams also include advising staff, data analysts, and representatives from two-year campuses. Information about participants at each institution is provided in the “About Us” section of this website; and a glossary of terms and other resources related to the Math Initiative’s work are available in the “Resources” section. Please contact with any questions.

Alice Pulvermacher photo

Alice Pulvermacher
Office of Academic & Student Affairs Project Director & Principal Investigator



  • Increase enrollment rates in a math course in the student’s first year.
  • Reduce the number of students placed into developmental math courses.
  • Improve the success of students in developmental math courses.
  • Improve the success of students in their first credit bearing math courses.
  • Ensure transferability of gateway math courses within UW System.


  • Implement common cut score for math placement
  • Use multiple measures for math placement
  • Implement evidence-based innovations in teaching, including for developmental math
  • Develop UW Math Gateways Model based on gateway math common course descriptions and learning outcomes


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I really appreciate this Math Initiative. I just want to reinforce the fact that this has been eye-opening through a deep dive in the data and through the rich conversations that we’ve had across campuses to really question the why and with the ultimate goal of students succeeding in math.

Phyllis King, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UW-Milwaukee

UW System Gateway Math Courses

The University of Wisconsin System Math Steering Committee representing all 13 institutions developed, vetted and—in September 2018—finalized course descriptions and learning outcomes for the most common gateway mathematics courses in the system:

UW System Math Initiative representatives since have been sharing the course descriptions and learning outcomes with Wisconsin educational partners, such as the Wisconsin Technical College System, Wisconsin Mathematics Council, Wisconsin section of the Mathematics Association of America and Wisconsin PK-12 education administrators and high school mathematics instructors. Outreach to secondary education has included venues such as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), curriculum and instruction Cooperative Educational Service Agency district representatives and the UW-Madison Professional Learning and Community Engagement College Readiness in Math Symposium.

Please contact Alice Pulvermacher for additional information.

Building on Student Centered Strategies
Working Across Disciplines
Collaborating Systemwide
Supporting Student Success
Removing Barriers to Student Success

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