Partners launch toolkit on equitable math instruction in grades 6-8

A united front of partners officially launched A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction with a Sept. 22 webinar, an integrated approach toolkit to anti-racist mathematics that centers Black, Latinx and multilingual students in grades 6-8 and addresses the multiple barriers to math equity.

Presenters said the five-part toolkit was developed by a vast team of teachers, instructional coaches, researchers, professional development providers and curriculum writers with expertise in mathematics education, English language development and culturally responsive pedagogy. Organizations involved in the resource’s development included Californians Together, WestEd, the Californian Association for Bilingual Education and several large county offices of education. CSBA is one of the project’s key dissemination partners.

Citing deep-rooted and underlying issues for students of color, Rachel Ruffalo, director of educator engagement at The Education Trust-West and project lead of the toolkit, said the resource provides foundational steps toward addressing long-standing barriers. “The barriers are likely to continue to grow unless we tackle systemic barriers. There’s no quick-fix to addressing systemic inequities in learning,” she said. “These resources are designed to be used by educators now as they plan their curriculum and offer educators opportunities for ongoing self-reflection as they develop anti-racist math practices.

“You may find that there is application for students beyond middle school,” Ruffalo added, responding to several audience questions about whether the resource is limited to grades 6-8. Troubling data show that the problem exists across all grade levels.

In California, more than eight out of 10 Black eighth-graders are not meeting math standards. This lag in achievement follows students throughout their education, as statistics reveal similar test scores for 11th-grade students, in which eight out of 10 Black and Latino students are not meeting math standards.

While largely designed for teachers and curriculum teams, the resource and issues at hand are also critically important for board members, administrators and other leaders, said Manuel Buenrostro, policy associate at Californians Together. “District leaders can adopt this tool as a resource and encourage its use in districtwide and schoolwide professional learning, Buenrostro said. “Boards can also hold a study session focused on math equity and reflect on how structures and district cultures might perpetuate inequity.”

The toolkit also includes important considerations for distance learning. More information about each “stride,” or section of the toolkit is available through an upcoming webinar series beginning Oct. 1.

“5 Strides on the Path to Math Equity”

Stride 1: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction: Exercises for educators to reflect on their own biases to transform their instructional practice (upcoming webinar)

Stride 2: Fostering Deep Understanding: Methods for deepening content understanding and relevance through crafted math discussions (upcoming webinar)

Stride 3: Creating Conditions to Thrive: Environments and practices that support students’ social, emotional and academic development (upcoming webinar)

Stride 4: Connecting Critical Intersections: The interconnectedness of English language learning and the development of mathematical thinking (upcoming webinar)

Stride 5: Sustaining Equitable Practice: Coaching structures that support math educators’ in their ongoing centering of equity principles (upcoming webinar)