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Building Critical Math Skills in the Early Grades

Teacher and elementary school students solve math problems at a whiteboard

When children in primary grades study math, they are learning more than how to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers. Solving math problems helps students develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills that are vital for academic and personal success. In Early Math Matters, SREB explores why early math is so important and provides recommendations on how state leaders can raise the math achievement of their students.

The report examines how:

Blog post Samantha DurranceSREB Policy Analyst

Why Do We Say “I’m Bad at Math”?
How math anxiety affects performance, and what we can do about it

We’ve all likely heard someone say, “I’m bad at math,” or even “I hate math.” In the United States, math is too often considered a subject that either comes naturally or doesn’t — there are “math people,” and everyone else can expect to struggle with it. If you stop and think, though, this makes as much sense as saying we’re all naturally good (or bad) at sports, or music, or writing. It’s true that becoming skilled in any of these areas may come more easily to some people than others, but we generally understand that no one becomes expert at baseball without learning the game and spending a lot of time practicing.

Publication Crystal Collins, Marilyn Thomas200840 pages(08E05)

Set for Success
Improving Reading and Mathematics Achievement in the Early Grades

This report documents the continued progress of SREB states in preparing early grades students for success in the middle grades and beyond. It analyzes scores on state assessments and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and relates what states are doing to improve early grades reading instruction. It also presents intervention policies in SREB states and effective ways to meet the needs of students not yet achieving at grade level.

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Blog post Samantha DurranceSREB Policy Analyst

Giving Elementary Teachers the Tools to Teach Math Well
Broad preparation can leave math-specific knowledge lacking

Graph with percentages of teachers with a degree in math or math education in 2018.

Math cartoon - "Just a darn minute -- yesterday your said that X equals two!" It’s no secret that aspiring teachers with strong math backgrounds tend to be drawn toward the secondary grades, where they can just teach math. In fact, results of the 2018 National Survey of Science and Math Education showed that just 3 percent of elementary teachers surveyed held a degree in mathematics or math education, compared with 45 percent of middle grades math teachers and 79 percent of high school math teachers.

Spotlight

FALs Yield High Dividends

Debbie Blankenship

Jeanne Glover, math specialist at the Jonesboro Public Schools district in Jonesboro, Arkansas, was trained in the Mathematics Design Collaborative during the 2013-14 school year with SREB math consultant Amanda Merritt. Glover believes the MDC tools fit well with her K-12 mathematics vision for the district.

So Debbie Blankenship, math teacher at Douglas MacArthur Junior High School, joined two other district teachers for initial MDC training in May 2014.

Blog post Dave Raney, SREB Chief Editor

Not Made for Math? Think Again
How to Turn Every Student Into a Math Person

Adrienne Dumas has heard it from kids for years, like so many teachers and parents: “I just don’t have a math brain.”

A math teacher at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi, Dumas disagrees, and with good reason — her Algebra 1 and geometry students have a 100 percent passing rate for the past three years on the state test. Dumas and other teachers offer their tips for math success in a recent SREB High Schools That Work newsletter.

Blog post David Raney, SREB Chief Editor

Math Classroom Strategies Steal the Show

Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Schools, visited Moore High School in December to look at its technology program. And she did, but she also got a pleasant surprise when principal Mike Coyle showed her to an Algebra 2 classroom.

Mathematics department chair Nancy Nix reported that the superintendent was “blown away by the level of student engagement and mathematical discourse.”

Publication March 2018 80 pages (18V04)

Making Math Matter
High-Quality Assignments That Help Students Solve Problems and Own Their Learning

Report cover: Making Math Matter

This report presents results of teacher and student surveys on how powerful Mathematics Design Collaborative practices are shifting how teachers teach. It also summarizes student achievement data from schools using the strategies in four states. In vignettes and testimonials, teachers who completed SREB professional development on MDC share how they have grown as teachers and how their students’ understanding of math concepts has improved.

Spotlight

Principal is Key for Math Teachers’ Professional Development

Stacey Irvin

The role of the administrator — attending professional development sessions with teachers and principals and participating in classroom observations and coaching visits — is critical to the successful implementation of the Mathematics Design Collaborative. To support teachers, leadership must understand math achievement gaps in students and the classroom process that teachers are taught to address the gaps.