Analysis of Middle School Math Systems (AMS): Further Investigation into Student Experiences, Instruction, and Context
Middle School Math: Culturally Responsive Materials, Teacher Professional Learning, and Student Engagement
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Students were most likely to feel that their parents think they are good at math and less likely to feel that their classmates believe so. However, Black and Hispanic students were less likely to feel that their classmates view them as good at math and female students were significantly less likely to say that their parents and classmates think they are good at math.
- A majority of students indicated that they care about learning math and want to be in math class. However, Black, Hispanic, and female students were significantly more likely to say that they feel frustrated in math class or often feel down.
- Teachers infrequently employed strategies most commonly associated with culturally responsive teaching, including engaging students’ cultural and community funds of knowledge and making interdisciplinary connections. Teachers predominantly delivered whole-class instruction, suggesting limited efforts to create equitable learning environments. In addition, teachers commonly tasked students with individual work.
- Our initial look at how district and school leaders describe their respective visions for math education—and the alignment between the two—suggests that instructional leaders do not consistently share a clear and consistent vision that offers concrete guidance on instructional strategies teachers could employ to realize stated learning goals.
In this report, we present analyses of district, school administrator, and teacher interview; student survey; student focus group; and classroom observation data to explore whether:
- Students hold positive perceptions about themselves as math students, are enjoying math class, and are motivated to continue studying math in the future.
- Teachers are employing ambitious, culturally responsive, and equitable instructional practices to provide students with a positive learning environment.
- Teachers possess beliefs that positively influence students’ experiences in math class.
- District and school administrators share a clear and coherent vision for high-quality middle school math instruction that can help teachers create and sustain positive learning environments.
Data were collected through partnerships with four districts in which we conducted the study in a selected set of schools.