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MassBay STEM Starter Academy Summer Program Boosts Math Scores and Students Confidence

Friday, September 11, 2020

WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (September 10, 2020) — MassBay Community College is pleased to announce that student success rates from the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Starter Academy Summer Program, which ran virtually for two weeks in August, prior to the start of fall STEM classes, increased STEM students’ math skills, placement scores, and confidence.

Primarily targeted to students who initially place into a lower level math class than what is required for their particular STEM discipline, participants are pre- and post-tested, utilizing the math Accuplacer exam. This past summer, 23 of the program’s 25 students repeated the math placement test at the end of the program, which resulted in:

  • 78% of the students scoring higher in one or both placement scores
  • 61% of the students placing into a higher-level math class
  • 64% of the students taking college level math in the fall
  • 2 students taking Calculus 1
  • 100% enrollment in a fall 2020 semester math course
  • 23% of the students enrolling in a co-requisite math class

The participating students included 10 females and 15 males, 64% students of color, and 32% women of color. Students who placed into a higher-level math class save an entire semester or more of time and money on classes they no longer need to take. This was the fifth year offering the summer program and the first time it ran virtually.

“The STEM Starter Academy Summer Program is proving to be a game changer for students who need math support before enrolling in their desired STEM program,” said MassBay STEM Starter Academy Project Director, Valerie Kapilow. “We know that jobs in emerging STEM fields are often well-paying and stable positions, so this Academy really becomes a launchpad for many of our students. It’s gratifying that by giving these students the academic support they need, we are paving the way for them to achieve their future goals and aspirations.”

Twenty-five incoming MassBay STEM students participated in the four hours daily ”bridge” program. In addition to learning intensive, STEM-focused math, the students have access to a dedicated STEM Academic Advisor, STEM Career Development Counselor, opportunities to participate in a one-to-one coaching program, a STEM Mentor Program, industry field trips, a STEM four-year Transfer Academy, and a variety of STEM Forums and events held throughout the year.

“The STEM Starter Program helped me relearn my math skills, which I desperately needed because I had not taken math classes in more than 15 years,” said MassBay STEM Starter Academy Summer Program student, Dustin Aziz, of Milford, MA. “I was able to increase my score on the math placement test, enabling me to get into a college level math class. I also greatly enjoyed and appreciated being introduced to STEM faculty, student advisors and coaches, and introduced to the several programs being offered to STEM students at MassBay.”

Prospective students interested in STEM courses can contact MassBay’s Admissions Office at 781-239-2500 or

MassBay Community College is ranked by the Brookings Institution as one of the top schools for value added and earned salaries in the workforce. Ranked #1 for two-year colleges in Massachusetts, #2 in New England, and #16 nationally. The College’s facilities in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland house day, evening and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career minded lifelong learners. Online options provide convenience and allow faculty to facilitate the learning process. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and strives to meet the needs of the diverse local communities it serves.

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