Improving Math Education in North Texas
New collaborative supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Networks for School Improvement Initiative
The Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin joins Educate Texas and Learning Forward in building a network of public-school educators and leaders to improve secondary mathematics education in North Texas, especially for Latino, African-American, and low-income students. The inaugural 2018-2019 Texas Network School Improvement Collaborative (TXNSI) is supported by a Networks for School Improvement (NSI) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to Doug Sovde, director of K-12 education strategy, policy, and services at the Dana Center, high failure rates in Algebra I, usually a requirement in 8th or 9th grade, often stand as a barrier to student success in high school and beyond. “The transition to college has a long ‘on-ramp’ including Algebra I,” said Sovde. “Therefore, this work with our partners through the Collaborative is a critical component in a larger strategic focus on transition points throughout a student’s educational experience.”
TXNSI will target approximately 10 high school and middle school campuses in two to four districts with the intention of developing rigorous professional learning teams. The TXNSI collaboration will work with school and district teams to identify the most critical barriers to student success and then assist those teams in creating closely targeted improvements addressing those problems.
“Fundamentally, this is Educational Renewal. It’s a very inquiry based, inductive process looking at the drivers for high failure rates in Algebra I, which could be many—ranging from attendance to teacher content knowledge,” Sovde said. “We will support the participating schools in leading their own efforts to increase student success rates.”
The three organizations comprising the TXNSI Collaborative provide complementary strengths to the effort:
- Educate Texas, which serves as the lead network developer for the collaboration, is responsible for organizing the Collaborative, coordinating meetings and communication across the network, and providing data analysis for the work.
- Learning Forward will use its strong background in professional learning to train district and school teams in continuous improvement strategies.
- The Charles A. Dana Center, with a long history in both K-12 and postsecondary mathematics instruction, policy, and research, will provide subject matter expertise in math education and student success.
The 2018-2019 TXNSI serves as a pilot program, with the goal of expanding the project to a statewide focus in Phase II.
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