Where are we in closing the math achievement gap?

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The National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) conferences this year were sprinkled with workshops related to equity in math education. Not a big surprise given that both organizations highlight this theme in their visions and organizational priorities.





What did surprise (and disappoint) me, however, was the small number of participants in the various “Equity in Math” workshops that I attended. Consistently, the same handful of 10-20 math educators (many of them affiliated with TODOS: Mathematics for All) from across the country appear to be prioritizing equitable math education.

It is no secret that there are multiple achievement gaps to be addressed in mathematics. In 2013, the percentage of Black and Hispanic 8th grade students who score at or above proficient in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) was 31% and 24%, respectively, below the average of white 8th grade students and even further below Asian/Pacific Islander students.* Similarly, the percentage of 8th-graders eligible for free- and reduced lunches scoring proficient on the NAEP was 29% lower than that of non-eligible students during that same year. Given these obvious achievement disparities, and the wealth of data indicating the work we need to do to ensure all students are receiving quality math educations, why were more educators not prioritizing “equitable mathematics learning”?

What kinds of conversations about equity are you having in your district? Who is involved in them? How is your school/district/region working to close the achievement gap?

Interested in this topic and want to discuss it with colleagues? Check out our Social Justice Math Study Group, offered this year through the Core Learning Office.

*A discussion of recent efforts to disaggregate Asian/Pacific Islander data in order to serve the student populations who have historically been hidden under the model minority myth is an entire post in itself. For this post, I’ll simply point out that the failure to recognize and measure differences among Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S. has resulted in continued negligence of their very different educational profiles, as discussed in this article.

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