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Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 2,640 Likes: 2
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Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 2,640 Likes: 2 
California Tries to Close the Gap in Math, but Sets Off a BacklashProposed guidelines in the state would deemphasize calculus, reject the idea that some children are naturally gifted and build a connection to social justice. Critics say math shouldn’t be political. By Jacey Fortin New York Times Nov. 4, 2021 If everything had gone according to plan, California would have approved new guidelines this month for math education in public schools.
But ever since a draft was opened for public comment in February, the recommendations have set off a fierce debate over not only how to teach math, but also how to solve a problem more intractable than Fermat’s last theorem: closing the racial and socioeconomic disparities in achievement that persist at every level of math education.
The California guidelines, which are not binding, could overhaul the way many school districts approach math instruction. The draft rejected the idea of naturally gifted children, recommended against shifting certain students into accelerated courses in middle school and tried to promote highlevel math courses that could serve as alternatives to calculus, like data science or statistics.
The draft also suggested that math should not be colorblind and that teachers could use lessons to explore social justice — for example, by looking out for gender stereotypes in word problems, or applying math concepts to topics like immigration or inequality.
The battle over math comes at a time when education policy, on issues including masks, testing and teaching about racism, has become entangled in bitter partisan debates. The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, seized on those issues to help propel him to victory on Tuesday. Now, Republicans are discussing how these education issues can help them in the midterm elections next year.
Even in heavily Democratic California — a state with six million public school students and an outsize influence on textbook publishing nationwide — the draft guidelines encountered scathing criticism, with charges that the framework would inject “woke” politics into a subject that is supposed to be practical and precise.
... As I often say, the proper role of government is not to equalize results by race or other demographic categories.




Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 201 Likes: 5
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Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 201 Likes: 5 
“The draft rejected the idea of naturally gifted children, recommended against shifting certain students into accelerated courses in middle school...//...
The draft also suggested that math should not be colorblind and that teachers could use lessons to explore social justice.”
Is athletics colourblind? The line ups of 100m finalists in the Olympic Games of the past few decades would suggest some serious social inequities need to be addressed.




Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 97
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Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 97 
If anyone wants to read the draft themselves: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/ma/cf/"Chapter 1: Introduction" is where some of the things from the initial post are mentioned, although the quoted NYT article doesn't reflect the language as accurately as reading it would. On giftedness: Fixed notions about student ability, such as ideas of “giftedness,” have led to considerable inequities in mathematics education. Particularly damaging is the idea of the “math brain”—that people are born with a brain that is suited (or not) for math. Technologies that have emerged in the last few decades have allowed researchers to understand the mind and brain and completely challenged this idea. With current technology, scientists can study learning in mathematics through brain activity; they can look at growth and degeneration and see the impact of different emotional conditions on brain activity. This work has shown—resoundingly—that all people possess the capacity to learn mathematics to very high levels. Multiple studies have shown the incredible capacity of brains to grow and change within a short period of time (Huber et al, 2018; Luculano et al, 2015; Abiola & Dhindsa, 2011; Maguire, Woollett, & Spiers, 2006; Woollett & Maguire, 2011). Learning allows brains to form, strengthen, or connect brain pathways in a process of almost constant change and adaptation (Doidge, 2007; Boaler, 2019a). An important goal of this framework is to replace ideas of innate mathematics “talent” and “giftedness” with the recognition that every student is on a growth pathway. There is no cutoff determining when one child is “gifted” and another is not. On Calculus: Even for the highestachieving students, pressures to use mathematics courses as social capital for advancement can often undercut efforts to promote learning with understanding. This often results in what some deem a “rush to calculus,” which has not helped students. Bressoud (2017) studied the mathematics pathways of students moving from calculus to college. He found that out of the 800,000 students who take calculus in high school, roughly 250,000 or 31.25 percent of students move ‘backwards’ and take precalculus, college algebra, or remedial mathematics. Roughly 150,000 students take other courses such as Business Calculus, Statistics, or no mathematics course at all. Another 250,000, retake Calculus 1 and of these students about 60 percent of them earn an A or B and 40 percent earn a C or lower. Only 150,000 or 19 percent of students go on to Calculus II. This signals that the approach that is so prevalent in schools––of rushing students to calculus, without depth of understanding––is not helping their long term mathematics preparation. This has led the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to issue the following joint statement: Although calculus can play an important role in secondary school, the ultimate goal of the K–12 mathematics curriculum should not be to get students into and through a course in calculus by twelfth grade but to have established the mathematical foundation that will enable students to pursue whatever course of study interests them when they get to college. The college curriculum should offer students an experience that is new and engaging, broadening their understanding of the world of mathematics while strengthening their mastery of tools that they will need if they choose to pursue a mathematically intensive discipline. ( http://launchings.blogspot.com/2012/04/maanctmjointpositiononcalculus.html) I recommend that people take the time to read the framework to help put the linked article in the proper context.




Joined: Feb 2020
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Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 201 Likes: 5 
‘An important goal of this framework is to replace ideas of innate mathematics “talent” and “giftedness” with the recognition that every student is on a growth pathway. There is no cutoff determining when one child is “gifted” and another is not.’
Most abilities occur within a population as a Gaussian or log Gaussian distribution and I agree that arbitrary cutoffs are inappropriate, but so is the attempt to apply a one size fits all curriculum based on age determined enrolled grade.
The framework prescribes heterogeneous grouping so all students (of similar age) can contribute, but abilities can vary so widely in such groups that the progress of individuals in both tails of the distribution could be hindered. I remember my son used to do the same multiplication worksheets as his similar aged Yr 2 classmates (78 yr olds), but he would do his in other number systems (which the teacher was happy for him to do as the school was aware that he had mastered the multiplication table in kindergarten). When he first used Roman numerals and binary, the teacher was happy for him to show his work to classmates, but when he decided to do his worksheets in different bases (after recognising that other species were tetradactyl and tridactyl etc) and started inventing symbols for polydactyls with more than five digits per limb, he was specifically told by his teacher NOT to share his ideas with his classmates as these concepts would confuse those who were struggling to master multiplication in our base ten system (it was exactly the sort of applied maths concepts this framework seeks to encourage, but the education system still needs to also recognise that individuals do develop at vastly different rates).
Eventually, my son was radically accelerated in maths and has been an asset at his high school for the past four years, with the head teacher praising him for his contributions to teaching because his older ‘peers’ were actually ready to share ideas introduced by my son, but the California’s draft framework doesn’t really reveal how students like my son (& it’s clear that many who post in this forum would face similar situations) would fit into their proposed new system.




Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 2,513 Likes: 1
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Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 2,513 Likes: 1 
I actually prefer a common academicfeeder course through a meaningful grade  say 9 or 10  so that disadvantaged students are not unduly limited in career options.
That being said, with a single (I’m Pollyannaishly assuming for the sake of argument) university prep caliber class  I’d expect single subject retentions and accelerations would become the norm for many students.
Educators can’t have it both ways. *Insert plug for crossgrade grouping by ability*
What is to give light must endure burning.




Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 117 Likes: 2
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 117 Likes: 2 
San Francisco Cited This Professor's Work to End 8th Grade Algebra. Complaint Alleges Her Research Had 'Reckless Disregard for Accuracy,' Complaint Alleges. https://freebeacon.com/california/s...isregardforaccuracycomplaintalleges/"the ultimate goal of the K12 mathematics curriculum should not be to get students into and through a course in calculus by twelfth grade" My view is that DYS can have the goal to get into and through AP calculus BC by tenth grade. The detracking movement, aligned with Boaler, makes this impossible. In other news, the chickens have at last come home to roost in SFUSD's coop. "SFUSD will bring back algebra to middle schools but parents upset by long rollout" https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea...wrapsnewmathplanhorizon18662899.php
Last edited by thx1138; 03/22/24 03:46 AM.




