K-12 Momentum:  August 2022

Students sitting at a table on the mobile devices

Dear friends,
Have you ever gone down a rabbit hole on YouTube? Admit it… you have. When you next need to chill out this summer, I strongly recommend that you add “Math” to your next search – or check out the videos of Matt Parker or Eddie Woo. How did I end up there? Math is always on my mind these days. When speaking with the eight Networks for School Improvement (NSI) currently working in math, educators have consistently identified the need for better materials and instructional practices that promote student motivation. What makes math fun, interesting and engaging? Even in elementary school, students begin to check out when they don’t understand how math fits into their larger personal goals. One hypothesis is that we spend a lot of classroom time on procedural mathematics, but we never get to deeper conceptual understandings of how math works and what makes it important in our lives. That’s when I ventured on the web to look at research and YouTube stars. These practitioners, like many of you, provide some inspiration for reengineering how we talk about, teach and learn mathematics in classrooms. Of course, math can be fun, but like anything else it also requires hard work and student persistence. In our research and development work, the EF+Math Program (a program of the Advanced Education Research & Development Fund) has the bold goal of doubling the number of Black and Latino students who are proficient in math in grades three through eight. The big idea is that certain Executive Function skills that every student has (like working memory) - can supercharge math learning. Using an Inclusive R&D approach, it brings together educators, researchers, and developers to build innovative solutions such as Fraction Ball, which uses learning science research on movement to integrate fractions and basketball, and MathicSteam, which uses augmented reality and graphic novels to take a whole-child approach to algebra. Math is anything but dull! In the coming months, we’ll look to share more about how we will support improving math instruction and math outcomes. Until then, I’ll see you on YouTube. In partnership,


Bob Hughes
Director, K-12 Education

Quick Takes

  • Partnering with the National Science Foundation

    We are working with the National Science Foundation to advance a new equity-focused partnership, which will expand the currently limited evidence base on the learning needs of historically marginalized students. Learn more here.
  • Re-Envisioning Mathematics Pathways to Expand Opportunities

    How can high school and postsecondary math requirements evolve to be less of a barrier to students' academic and career goals? Check out this new report from Education Strategy Group, the Charles A. Dana Center, and Student Achievement Partners.
  • Bill Gates Celebrates Teachers

    Bill has a great new video and blog post highlighting the Washington State Teacher of the Year Jerad Koepp who supports Native American students in a school district outside of Olympia, Washington. He is also lifting up the OER Project which creates high-quality high school courses and makes them free online. Check these new blog posts out!
  • From Student Experience to Student Voice

    This new What We’re Learning blog post from several researchers including those from Villanova University and Penn State looks at the importance of student voice and student surveys in the classroom. Involving students early in the survey process can give students a sense of agency and responsibility. Learn more about the importance of timing, transparency, and taking action in student experience surveys.

  • Accelerating Math – A New Report from Zearn

    This week, Zearn released a new, national study that shows acceleration works at scale. Their new report, Catching Up and Moving Forward: Accelerating Math Learning for Every Student, shows promising evidence that learning acceleration versus remediation helped students catch up and move forward in math over the past two school years. Learning acceleration, in its truest form, means focusing on teaching students lessons appropriate for their grade level, and reteaching only the skills and lessons from earlier grades that are necessary to understand the new content.

What We're Reading