Recent assessment scores show that mathematics achievement has declined across the nation. This Spotlight offers diverse solutions to support educators in learning recovery and acceleration, including online professional learning for teachers, supplemental lessons for middle-grade students, and high-dosage tutoring for young learners.

Innovative Mathematics Programs That Promote Curiosity and Joy

Innovative Math Programs That Promote Curiosity and JoyOut-of-school learning opportunities can improve student academic achievement and support social–emotional learning by providing learning contexts that promote creativity, safe risk-taking, and a tolerance for ambiguity and failure. The challenges presented by gameplay featured in these learning environments facilitate and reinforce student learning of foundational mathematical understanding. With more flexibility than classroom settings, these fun learning contexts engage communities, parents, and caregivers by providing an opportunity for a diversity of ages and expertise to participate in activities centered around curiosity, discovery, and innovation.

This brief presents WestEd’s findings from high-level studies of five mathematics programs that created opportunities for students and teachers to build confidence, enjoyment, and skill, and summarizes the key features of each program.

Download Innovative Mathematics Programs That Promote Curiosity and Joy.

WestEd’s Pre-K Math Program Rated Most Effective by IES for Boosting Math Achievement

Research increasingly shows that mathematical thinking and learning begin during infancy and develop substantially throughout early childhood. During this period, children acquire an informal understanding of math that is rooted in the manipulation of concrete objects. The early math team at WestEd has been studying and supporting young children’s mathematical thinking for more than two decades. They are helping early childhood programs and parents support children’s ability to think mathematically in the United States and abroad by developing effective early math programs including Pre-K Mathematics.

Recently, a new report from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)’s What Works Clearinghouse—which reviews evidence on education programs and interventions—determined that the Pre-K Mathematics program earned its highest rating for effectiveness. This signifies that the program has amassed a substantial evidence base to affirm that it helps to improve young children’s math learning, an exciting step forward in understanding how to close the socioeconomic achievement gap in mathematics that begins during early childhood.

Read more.

Free Online Professional Learning for Middle-Grade Mathematics Teachers 

Group of middle school studentsVideo in the Middle offers middle-grade mathematics teachers 40 free, standards-aligned online modules based on the latest research in mathematics education. Each 2-hour module is designed around a lesson—such as Connecting Different Representations or Examining Slope and Y-Intercept—and features actual classroom video footage. 

VIM module design places a video clip at the center, or “in the middle,” of a professional learning experience as teachers participate in online mathematical problem-solving, video analysis of classroom practice, and pedagogical reflection. There are activities before and after each clip that are designed to ensure that the teachers engage deeply with the mathematics content and the focal instructional components.  

Get started with Video in the Middle.

High-Dosage Tutoring to Promote Children’s Mathematics Learning

Children participating in the Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial ProjectAs the National Center for Education Statistics continues to release information about the amount of learning loss caused by the pandemic, many education leaders and districts are prioritizing tutoring programs to support students who have fallen behind and to address lost instructional time. 

WestEd Senior Project Directors Kylie Flynn and Alice Klein lead a team successfully delivering high-dosage tutoring to more than 100 preK children in 28 classrooms in Sacramento, California, with promising results. 

In this Q&A, Flynn and Klein discuss the program’s history and impact on students, including critical takeaways for districts considering implementing high-dosage tutoring programs to support preK children who are behind in their mathematical development. 

Read the interview.

Subscribe to the E-Bulletin 

E-Bulletin FeaturetteStay informed about WestEd’s research, resources, services, events, and career opportunities by subscribing to our E-Bulletin. Our July 2023, Volume Two issue explores how states, districts, and schools can improve mathematics teaching and learning. The issue features the following: 

  • Free Online Professional Learning for Mathematics Teachers 
  • 7 Essential Practices for Leading Change 
  • Helping Students Understand Why Mathematics Is Important 
  • Accelerating Impact and Educational Equity in Algebra
  • Providing High-Dosage and High-Quality Mathematics Tutoring 
  • Preparing Young Children for Elementary School Mathematics
  • Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education in Mathematics 
  • How Technology-Based Support Impacts Mathematics Learning 

View the latest E-Bulletin on mathematics teaching and learning. 

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How is your state, district, or school working to improve mathematics achievement? Engage in the discussion with us on Facebook and LinkedIn.