K-12 Momentum: March 2023

New technology, infinite possibilities

Dear friends, I missed writing on Pi Day, but don’t worry, it just goes on and on… Alright, forgive my very old joke, but the truth is that math, like Pi, is constant, mind-stretching and at times baffling. You see it everywhere; in nature, in the human body, in sports and in architecture. Pi is beautiful in its ability to provide an answer and also in the infinite possibilities it suggests about our very human understanding of the abstract world. Pi makes me think about what is possible in math, as does artificial intelligence (AI), something that has also dominated the news over the last few months. What an amazing product of mathematics and engineering! Educators have a new tool—and are flocking to different sites to better understand it. This isn’t surprising. If you consider how creative they are teaching Pi (check out a few examples here), AI’s promise cannot be underestimated. From the reading I have done, it holds the potential to empower teachers and students toward new, better ways to structure classrooms and implement innovations that can lead to greater personalization, feedback and applications in the real world. As Bill Gates suggests in his most recent Gates Notes, AI will be most effective, I suspect, if we remain clear-eyed about its strengths, dangers and limits. To be a force for good, it must be available and address the needs of all students, regardless of race or class. And this is a human problem: We cannot bake our biases into its algorithms. Like everything in education, AI must be built on what we understand about how students learn—or don’t. As AI use cases are developed, I find myself looking at articles that describe theories of learning, research like Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction. Written several years ago, this is a critical resource for teachers seeking to infuse strong cognitive science in their classrooms. I believe part of the answer remains in linking this new technology, and the possibilities it creates, to the very real, research-based understandings of teachers’ and students’ needs—perhaps the biggest piece of the Pi. In partnership,

Bob Hughes
Director, K-12 Education

Quick Takes

An Analysis of Curriculum Effectiveness Studies

Many school systems across the country are working to adopt stronger math curricula. Research can be an important tool to guide these decisions—but how well do current studies capture the effectiveness of high-quality math curricula? In Rounding Up: An Analysis of Math Curriculum Effectiveness Studies, Bellwether identifies trends across 61 effectiveness studies of high-quality math curricula, along with ways researchers can make future studies more useful for leaders and educators. Bellwether also released a companion toolkit to help district leaders and educators use research in making choices about math curricula.

New Report on California Math Course-Taking, Innovative High School Math Courses

A new report examines the ways to improve math course-taking for high school students in California public schools. This new research highlights six partnerships between college-level and high school math educators to develop and implement innovative courses. Read more here.

RAND: Getting Students to (and Through) Advanced Math

In the 2021-2022 school year, a large proportion of math teachers were not able to devote as much time as they would have liked to math instruction, according to a new report from RAND. This key finding, among the many found in this report, highlights the need to better support teachers and students in math pathways. Check out more here.

What We're Reading

The 74 on the role of calculus

Why connecting tutoring to curriculum could make it more effective

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