K12 Momentum: January 2023

Our K-12 team works with partners to increase the number of students who are prepared for, persist in, and enjoy math, as evidenced by the completion of Algebra by 9th grade.

Dear friends,

Our K-12 team works with partners to increase the number of students who are prepared for, persist in, and enjoy math, as evidenced by the completion of Algebra by 9th grade. “Enjoy” and mathematics in the same sentence? If you attended my school growing up, the connection probably would not have occurred to you. But I was wrong! Mathematics can be infused with rigor, joy, and passion. One of my current inspirations (and a fun thing to do) is watching videos by YouTuber and mathematician Vi Hart. She explores math through doodling, hiding math in videos about dragon scalesinfinity elephantssnakes and rings or Fibonacci numbers! Then there is Steve Strogatz, a Cornell mathematician who passionately writes about how math intersects the world. He talks about the beauty of math here. His book, The Joy of X, is a thrilling journey through Algebra! Getting excited? Alright… I’m in deep. And this is just the beginning. But we need more joy and passion in school, especially in math. Research shows that the best way to spark joy in math among students is by creating successful experiences for them in which they are doing math that feels relevant and engaging, not just hearing about it. That approach – making math more relevant and engaging for students in and out of the classroom – is at the core of our strategy, and it’s where we hope to push the field in the years ahead. Our CEO, Mark Suzman, highlighted this commitment in the foundation’s annual letter earlier this month. He described our desire to influence publishers and other content creators to create better, more engaging math materials. We want to help build demand for new, better materials and support teachers in delivering engaging math experiences to students because we want students to see the joy in math and the math in the world around them. I suspect all kids are math kids if we start with rigor and joy. Some students just don’t know it yet…


Bob Hughes
Director, K-12 Education


Quick Takes

Numeracy for All

Math expert and Zearn CEO Shalinee Sharma has an op-ed in Education Next making the case for numeracy for all. We couldn’t agree more. Every child can learn math, and she outlines four key steps to help do just that, including the importance of acceleration, not just remediation, especially in the wake of the pandemic learning loss we’ve seen. Read more here.


How can schools increase student engagement and accelerate learning?

Two new reports provide actionable, complementary answers to this question. Learning Conditions Are an Actionable, Early Indicator of Math Learning quantifies the relationship between easy-to-measure classroom conditions and improved learning outcomes. For example, students are 2x more likely to earn As and Bs in math when they experience teacher caring, meaningful work, and feedback for growth. Shifts in these conditions also predict subsequent improvement in grades. A companion case study explores how teachers in West Buffalo, New York, improved those classroom conditions schoolwide. Over five improvement cycles, teachers partnered with their students and each other to iteratively measure, discuss, and enhance classroom conditions. Their success sheds light on effective professional learning practices that enable teachers to transform students’ experiences, catalyze engagement, and accelerate learning. Check out these great reports!


Continuous Improvement for Equity Resource Hub

A new, one-stop shop for equity-focused continuous improvement is here. Educators and teams can use MAEC’s Continuous Improvement for Equity Resource Hub to embed equity into their CI process in their classrooms, schools, and systems. The site offers guided pathways, where users answer equity consideration questions and receive a customized list of resources. Explore the site at ci4equity.org.

What We're Reading

This new RAND research about “how limitations on the way teachers can address contentious topics in the classroom are influencing their instruction.”

This journal article is about the promise of “curriculum-based professional learning.