Participate as a High School

A new approach to college and career readiness, gaining college math credit

Excel Together West Virginia introduces the CSM Course that allows students to complete college math before they go to college, and gain recognition in hiring from employers in many different sectors. These are concrete indicators of college and career readiness, and are available to and attainable by the large majority of students, from remedial to advanced.

Implementing CSM is easy and inexpensive, and participation in Excel Together West Virginia connects you to a host of free planning and implementation services.

CSM builds college and career readiness

Excel Together West Virginia uses an online, self-paced training program called the CSM Course that builds High Performance skills including:

  • college-level quantitative reasoning and professional literacy
  • problem-solving mindsets and strategies
  • learning strategies, mindsets, and the ability to learn on your own
  • intention to excel, supported by attention to detail and persistence
  • and, most importantly, self-efficacy -- a person's belief in their ability to succeed at whatever they put their mind to.

These High Performance skills form the basis for success in school, college, work and life, and yet they aren't prominent in most school or college curricula.

Self-efficacy, in particular, now enjoys a consensus in educational psychology and organizational development as the single most important factor in performance, both in work and academic contexts -- knowing you can succeed leads to persistence, and persistence to learning.

CSM is different

Inside CSM is a next-generation personalized learning engine that focuses on a person's learning strategies and mindsets, their behaviors, and how they feel about themselves. As these personal factors develop, participants build the ability to learn math, literacy and problem solving on their own.

Some aspects of CSM give a sense of its difference from conventional courses:

  • CSM builds attention to detail by requiring 100% correct on mainly fill-in-the-blank questions -- this also develops a belief in participants that they are capable of A-level work.
  • CSM develops persistence by monitoring student frustration levels and collaborating with coaches to transform it into persistence.
  • CSM improves learning strategies and mindsets by observing participant learning to devise personalized interventions.
  • CSM enhances students' numerical intuitions and way of interacting with the world by focusing on mental math and estimation skills that the large majority of 4-year college graduates lack.
  • CSM builds robust problem solving with complex multi-step problems, often with information that is incomplete or hidden in memos written at the college level.

The CSM Certificate is a concrete indicator of college and career readiness

College Readiness

The CSM Certificate earns college credit that satisfies the general education math credit for associate degrees across the state for a bachelor's degree at WVU degree -- this means that your students can enter college with their math requirement in the rearview mirror. Given that college math is the major academic cause for stopping-out in college, and one of the major concerns for people considering college, earning a CSM Certificate improves both college access and completion.

The list below gives the colleges that currently accept CSM, and the math transfer credit they will earn. We are currently in discussions with most of the remaining 2- and 4-year public colleges, and expect most will be granting CSM math credit by spring 2024.

Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
BridgeValley Community and Technical College
Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College
New River Community and Technical College
Pierpont Community and Technical College
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
West Virginia Northern Community College
West Virginia University Parkersburg
Concord University
Glenville State University
WVU Potomac State College
West Virginia University
West Virginia University Institute of Technology

Career Readiness

The CSM Certificate shows that your graduates have in-demand High Performance skills. Excel Together West Virginia is working with Workforce West Virginia and business and industry associations to gain employer recognition for students who have earned a CSM Certificate.

Unlike Industry-Recognized Credentials, which by definition are for a limited number of positions in a single sector, the CSM Certificate will be recognized by employers for many jobs across a wide range of industries -- the High Performance skills are "transferable".

Survey of WV Manufacturers Association members, 2023

In a 2023 survey of members of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, the most critical workforce skill identified was learning agility, followed by attention to detail and problem solving -- these are all High Performance skills! Job-specific skills were lower, and algebra and related math skills were at the bottom of the list.

Additionally, over a third of manufacturers indicated that they would offer internships to students who had earned a CSM Certificate, and nearly 40% indicated their interest in working with schools to encourage offering CSM.

CSM improves math and literacy

CSM's focus on High Performance competencies including independent learning, persistence, attention to detail, and self-efficacy does not mean that it stints on academic learning.

A national study of educational technology with adult learners (and mainly opportunity youth) found that CSM had the largest math and literacy gains compared to gold-standard programs like ALEKS from McGraw-Hill and MyFoundationsLab from Pearson.

Most educational technology increases the skills gap, because it allows advanced students to accelerate while struggling students fall further behind (see, for example, the Pearson results). With CSM, the opportunity youth did far better than classroom instruction, with a quite significant 0.5 effect size!

Participate in Excel Together West Virginia by implementing CSM

Use as alternative to dual-credit math

Dual-credit classes suffer from constraints that make it hard to implement for some schools/students: the cost of the tuition, the need for a college-qualified instructor, and the need for students to have a 3.0 GPA or threshold ACT/SAT score. None of these restrictions apply to CSM.

Furthermore, college math does not include remediation. In contrast, CSM includes seamless remediation down to 5th grade math, so that even students who struggle with math can earn college math credit!

Finally, if a student fails a dual-credit class, this goes down on their permanent college transcript as an "F", which can put their college financial aid at risk. CSM does not have this concern as it is not immediately transcripted, but is rather accepted by colleges through an articulation with guaranteed transcription on matriculation.


CSM functions as a one semester class, though some may take more (e.g. if they start with 5th grade math skills, have some English language challenges, or have modest learning disabilities). Note that even if the students are using CSM in a classroom setting, they can be encouraged to also use CSM at home, and a student's CSM account is theirs forever.

Some students may finish CSM earlier in the semester, in which case they can work on the Career Strategies and Challenge Problems course (see below) which are part of the CSM package.  

As a participant in Excel Together West Virginia:

  • We'll provide you with help in planning a well-structured, intentional, high-fidelity implementation
  • We'll provide free online professional development for your teachers to become Certified CSM Coaches as well as free support and next-generation coaching tools. For more information on CSM Coaching, click here.
  • We will work with you to communicate to local employers the value of CSM, and work with local employers on organizing internships and other benefits for your students (if desired, this can be done in conjunction with your CTE staff)
  • We are organizing a Community of Practice for secondary school CSM Coaches where your coaches can engage professionally with other CSM Coaches around the state and improve their skills.

All of these benefits come free of charge!

Additional courses

Your use of CSM includes a number of additional courses at no extra cost, which are especially useful for more advanced students who may complete CSM earlier in the semester.

Career Strategies

Career Strategies builds an internal career coach available throughout a student's life by teaching career decision-making as a skill. The course can be taken in-between CSM lessons, or alternatively after taking CSM. Topics include the difference between jobs and careers, thinking like a manager, the living wage, how to put purpose into any job, and career pathways. You can learn more about Career Strategies here.

Challenge Problems

The time to complete CSM varies significantly between students, and some of your most advanced students may complete CSM in 15 hours or less. For those students who complete CSM quickly, they can then access the Challenge Problems that take students through lessons in problem solving and critical thinking at the college level:

  • Problem-Solving People builds an exploration mindset to problem solving, and critical and logical thinking.
  • Mathematical Intuitions builds math confidence, fluency, and engagement.
  • Social Science Explorations creates engagement with hypothesis building, experimental design and data interpretation of social science research.

Challenge Problems can allow students of vastly different capabilities be fully engaged over a semester of work in the same class!

CSM is inexpensive

The entire cost of CSM, including college math credit, employer recognition in hiring for your students, Career Strategies, Challenge Problems, and all of the benefits for participation in Excel Together West Virginia above, is $39 per student. For the spring and summer 2024 semesters, CSM is free, and we are working on obtaining funding so that CSM will be free or at a reduced price forever.

Math Coordinator for a turnaround high school

"The unanimous feelings of the math teachers involved in the program is that students are learning in ways they haven’t before.  ...CSM is extremely exciting to me in its potential role in building not only the math skills of students, but also their general interest in academic work, and their ability to learn.  I see broad use of CSM within this [struggling high school] population."

Please click to read more about Haidee's experience with CSM
Coordinators at a YouthBuild charter high school

"How could you ask for a better outcome? So many programs out there promise improved learning outcomes and rarely deliver results. From our point of view as educators and administrators, the CSM program not only delivers excellent outcomes, it gives us the opportunity to have these ongoing small teachable moments with students to help strengthen their basis skills and reasoning abilities."

Click here to learn more about Kim and Sara's experience with CSM

Learn more about CSM and Excel Together West Virginia

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