As educators prepare students to thrive in a global society, focusing on equity in mathematics education becomes increasingly more important. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Principles and Standards for School Mathematics asserts that “All students regardless of their personal characteristics, backgrounds, or physical challenges, must have opportunities to study-and support to learn-mathematics.” The intent of this year long emphasis on equity is to help teachers, school leaders, and teacher educators examine equity and its salience in the mathematics teaching and learning process.
To achieve equity in mathematics education, traditionally underserved students (i.e., students of color, students who live in poverty, females, students who are not native speakers of English, students with disabilities) in preschool through college must have access to a coherent, challenging curriculum that is taught by highly qualified, effective mathematics teachers. All students benefit from rich mathematical experiences, engaging classroom discourse and the use of a variety of instructional tools (e.g., manipulatives, technology). Moreover, every student must receive appropriate guidance, preparation, and support to participate and excel in advanced level mathematics.
Teachers, school leaders, and teacher educators must hold high expectations for all students. As agents of change, they must challenge the pervasive societal belief that only some students are capable of learning mathematics. These expectations must be reflected in all aspects of the mathematics teaching and learning process – from instructional planning and decision making to implementation and assessment. Educators must challenge the implicit, often unspoken, notion that only the experiences of some students are valuable and reflect mathematical knowledge. The lived experiences, prior knowledge, intellectual strengths, and personal interests of all students should be valued and utilized as a springboard for learning. Therefore, educators must reconceptualize the nature of students’ mathematical knowledge, bridging informal and formal mathematical experiences, and providing students opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of mathematics in a multitude of ways.
The pursuit of equity in mathematics education requires moving beyond catchy slogans to implementing systemic changes that reflect a commitment to all learners, preschool through college. Simply put, “All means ALL.”
Learn Reflect Strands
Eight Learn Reflect Strands featuring the Professional Development Focus of the Year will be held during the 2008-2009 academic year:
- Saturday, September 20, 2008 - TMTA Conference in Clarksville, Tennessee
- Thursday, October 2, 2008 - NCTM Regional Conference and Exposition in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Thursday, October 16, 2008 - NCTM Regional Conference in Cleveland, Ohio
- Thursday, October 30, 2008 - NCCTM Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina
- Thursday, November 6, 2008 - NCTM Regional Conference and Exposition in Reno, Nevada
- Thursday, March 12, 2009 - Virtual LearnReflect Strand - Equity: All Means ALL
- Thursday, April 23, 2009 - NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.
- Friday, May 1, 2009 - NCTM Conference in Duluth, Minnesota
The strands begin with a Kickoff session for all participants, continue with sessions for all grade bands, and culminate with Reflection sessions that allow participants to discuss the following questions:
1. Which of your beliefs about equity have been challenged or confirmed? How and why?
2. How can you establish a classroom environment that is equitable and challenges the pervasive societal belief that only some students are capable of learning mathematics?
3. How do you create classroom experiences that value and integrate students’ lived experiences, prior knowledge, intellectual strengths, and personal interests?
4. In your current role, how can you proactively confront issues of equity and advocate that all students receive equal opportunities to learn?
Recent Focus of the Year Topics