Special Report

How Schools Are Putting Equity First in Math Instruction

May 05, 2020 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.

—Bess Keller
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


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Leading Systemic Redesign: Strategies from the Field
Learn how your school community can work together to redesign the school system, reengineer instruction, & co-author personalized learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum A Media Literacy Requirement That Starts in Kindergarten? New Jersey May Start the Trend
New Jersey lawmakers want to require school districts to include media literacy for every grade.
3 min read
Fake News concept with gray words 'fact' in row and single bold word 'fake' highlighted by black magnifying glass on blue background
Curriculum The World Cup as Teachable Moment? How One Teacher Approached It
It's not just a game: Geopolitics are inscribed into the soccer championship, giving teachers an opportunity to host rich discussions.
3 min read
Josh Sargent of the United States controls the ball during the World Cup, group B soccer match between the United States and Wales, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
Josh Sargent of the United States controls the ball during the a World Cup match between the United States and Wales in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 21.
Francisco Seco/AP
Curriculum Nearly 300 Books Removed From Schools Under Missouri's 'Sexually Explicit Materials' Law
Missouri's efforts to remove books from public schools—either temporarily or permanently—go farther than most.
5 min read
Banned books are visible at the Central Library, a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system, in New York City on Thursday, July 7, 2022. The books are banned in several public schools and libraries in the U.S., but young people can read digital versions from anywhere through the library. The Brooklyn Public Library offers free membership to anyone in the U.S. aged 13 to 21 who wants to check out and read books digitally in response to the nationwide wave of book censorship and restrictions.
Several titles in this display of books in at the Central Library in New York city are on Missouri's banned books list. The N.Y. library allows young people anywhere to read digital versions of the books.
Ted Shaffrey/AP
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Sponsor
Teachers – Get Excited for Crayola Creativity Week 2023!
Crayola is bringing educators, parents, children, and celebrities together for an exciting, week-long, worldwide event: Crayola Creativity Week!
Content provided by Crayola