MSAN Math Committee Survey

Math ResourcesIn spring 2009, the Math Committee of the Research Practitioner Council (RPC) of the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) surveyed member districts about math interventions designed to remediate or accelerate (boost) the achievement of minority students in mathematics. The survey also asked about curriculum revision, professional development and high school scheduling. The survey was administered on-line via Survey Monkey. Representatives from 20 districts responded; their district roles vary and include: administrators, curriculum specialist, department chairs, and math coordinators. The report summarizes responses to constructed response questions and includes responses to open-response components of the survey.

Sample findings include:

  1. Most member districts offer math programs designed to accelerate promising minority students and programs for remediation in math. The report includes specific examples of these programs.
  2. The frequency, process and individuals involved in math curriculum review varies.
  3. Sometime in the past 3 years, most districts have offered professional development that was especially effective in promoting teachers' work with minority students

NewsArticles of Interest

Academic Resilience in Mathematics among Poor and Minority Students
While many studies seek to examine the achievement gap and it’s causes, these authors examined the “resiliency” factors that contribute to academic success. Their objective was to look for generalizations of these effects across both individual students and school models combined with determining if these effects were also a function of race. Four school models were analyzed: effective schools (Edmonds and Lezotte); peer group composition; school resources (Coleman); and supportive school-community models. Characteristics of self-esteem, self-efficacy, school engagement, and positive disposition were identified as resiliency variables. A key aspect of the study was also to contrast outcomes and effects of these variables across three racial groups: African-American, Hispanic, and White students. The student sample was drawn from the federally mandated Prospects study with outcomes being four-year math achievement of 925 students who fit the final selection criteria.

Proceeding to the final results, the question of resiliency factors on SES and race indicated that support for these factors both at the individual- and school-level for low SES minority students was significant regardless of race (with some notation that effective school characteristics may have a greater impact on African-American students due to the origins of that research). Student features of increased engagement, efficacy in mathematics, self-esteem, and outlook all had significant effect sizes for students in the “double jeopardy” of being both poor and minority. The supportive school model surfaced as the strongest model that fostered resilience characteristics in students. This communitarian model based on community, democracy, and an ethic of caring had the greatest effect of shielding students from adversity and developing supportive student-teacher relationships.

In summary, considering the aspects of MSAN objectives and mission combined with research design and rigor, this study is well worth examination by MSAN members, policy makers, and researchers.

The Black-White Gap in Mathematics Course Taking

Negotiating Sociocultural Discourses: The Counter-Storytelling of Academically (and Mathematically) Successful African American Male Students

mediaOther Resources

Supporting the Success of All Students through Algebra Interventions
This resource describes the content of and reactions to a one-day Math Mini-conference entitled “ Supporting the Success of All Students Through Algebra Interventions.” The mini-conference focused on the Algebra work being implemented at Evanston Township High School (ETHS), one of the schools in the MSAN network. Four components were presented including:

  1. the process utilized to revamp the Algebra 1 course that started with an exploration of data trends in math at ETHS, identification of best practices and notions about math ability and intelligence;
  2. a professional development course for teachers on “Studying Skillful Teaching”;
  3. the creation of an Academic Youth Development Program focused on teaching students about beliefs relating to intelligence and attribution theory; and
  4. teaching the Academic Youth Development course to students.

Also provided are teacher observations about the commonalities districts share in revamping math coursework to increase the numbers of students, particularly students of color, in advanced mathematics coursework. Common issues include the lack of secondary formative assessments, scheduling problems and monitoring student progress. Next steps for teachers and schools in the MSAN network are outlined.

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