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What We Can Do About Achievement Disparities

Abstract

"Because of the complex interaction between economic class and learning, improving mathematics education for all while narrowing achievement gaps is no simple task. As a young teacher, the author conducted action research to determine how low-SES and high-SES 7th graders responded to a problem-centered mathematics curriculum. To her dismay, she discovered that her low-SES students seemed resistant to learning mathematics through problem-solving and discussion. In this article, she discusses the possible reasons for this difference in learning preferences. She endorses mathematics instruction centered on meaning and rich, complex math problems for all students, but concludes that low-SES students, as a group, need targeted support to benefit from such instruction. In addition, she urges schools to protect the interests of low-SES students by taking the time to carefully advise them (and their parents) about the mathematics course options available to them."

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