Given the role that mathematics plays as a gateway into STEM disciplines, addressing achievement gaps for underrepresented students is essential. By focusing on both equity and access, the project, funded in the Discovery Research K-12 program, seeks to improve students' opportunities to learn by focusing on helping middle grades teachers learn about and enact equitable mathematics instruction and encourage students to have agency in their own mathematics learning. The middle grades are a particularly important focus of the project, as this is a time in students' education when achievement gaps grow. The practice-based model of professional development focuses on creating systemic reforms through collaborative communities in which mathematics teacher educators, mathematics teachers, and students work together both to support the fair distribution of opportunities to learn and to empower each in their roles in supporting mathematics learning of all students. The project has promise for supporting students, teachers, and teacher educators who work with middle grades mathematics teachers with the potential to address mathematics achievement gaps of students via a focus on equitable mathematics teaching and learning.
This project involves designing, facilitating, and studying professional development (PD) to support equitable mathematics education. The PD will involve grades 4-8 mathematics teachers across three sites to support the design of a two-week institute focused on enhancing access and agency in relationship to important mathematical practices like argumentation and justification, followed by ongoing interactions for the mathematics teachers to engage in systematic inquiry of their practice over time to facilitate equitable mathematics teaching and learning in their classrooms. Field testing of the practice-based professional development in one urban district which will include research conducted on the nature of students', teachers', and teacher educators' opportunities to learn with respect to three features of an equitable mathematical system and from the perspective of three components of the system. The project studies the coherence and alignment of these components from the perspective of classroom mathematics teachers. The research addresses essential questions related to how to provide equitable opportunity to learn for students, teachers, and teacher educators. In particular it will generate models of PD, tools for assessing equity in mathematics teaching and learning, and a theory of equitable mathematics education systems that advances our understanding of the ways in which approaches to teaching, learning, and studying mathematics support equitable opportunities to learn.