Educators and policymakers have been worried about the math skills of the nation’s students for decades now. U.S. students lag behind their peers in other countries, and the nation’s lowest-performing students have gained no ground on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress for nearly 30 years.
Just as disturbing, the Nation’s Report Card persistently reveals gaps between the math-skill levels of students by income, race, and ethnicity. Poor, African American, and Native American students fare the worst on the assessment.
And, yet, more than ever, Americans depend on math-fueled technology and call on big data to solve major problems. Educators recognize the value of math. They want their students to thrive in a quantitative world—maybe more than most citizens realize.
In a nationally representative survey of U.S. educators last month, when almost all teachers were meeting their students remotely, the EdWeek Research Center found that teachers are more concerned about their students falling behind in math than in any other subject.
Nine in every 10 teachers are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about a math deficit during the school shutdowns. Teachers in higher-poverty schools are even more concerned than those in lower-poverty districts. Educators are worried about math, the survey shows, even though they generally think the arts and science are harder than math to teach at a distance.
Pandemic conditions have heightened the challenges for math learning, no doubt about it.
This special report showcases bold approaches—almost all of them in use now remotely—for helping all students succeed at math.
The educators featured in this report are changing instructional priorities, altering lessons, and working on ways to help teachers grow professionally. Like their peers across the nation, they know that math is a critical subject and they want it to be a favorite one, too.
Senior Contributing Editor
A version of this article appeared in the May 06, 2020 edition of Education Week as Leveling the Playing Field in Math