Giving Compass' Take:

• Chalkbeat explains how Chicago's Berwyn North School District is changing in order to boost early math skills and increase students' achievements.

• Should parents emphasize STEM skills to their children the same way they do reading? And what should educators learn from this effort when it comes to early childhood development?

Read about the benefit of small group math instructions.

In the last decade, educators have focused on boosting literacy skills among low-income kids in the hope that all children will read well by third grade. But the early-grade math skills of these same low-income children have not received equal attention. Researchers say many high-poverty kindergarten classrooms don’t teach enough math and the few lessons on the subject are often too basic. While instruction may challenge kids with no previous exposure to math, it is often not engaging enough for the growing number of kindergarteners with some math skills.

During the last school year, only 40 percent of fourth-graders nationwide scored at a proficient level in a nationwide math assessment. Even more alarming, just 26 percent of Hispanic students and 19 percent of African-American children tested proficient in fourth-grade math. That is significant because strong math skills are needed for some of the fastest growing jobs of the next decade and are requirements for many of the highest paying jobs.

One district that is steadily ratcheting up its achievement levels, with a focus this year on mathematics, is located in a small Chicago suburb. Two years ago, just 14 percent of third-graders in Berwyn North School District 98 — a high-poverty, mostly Hispanic school district about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago — were able to do grade-level math. That was the district’s first year taking the PARCC assessment, a college- and career-readiness test mandated by the state of Illinois, and the results were dismal, though not exactly surprising.

Read the full article about boosting math skills in a Chicago school by Sarah Gonser at Chalkbeat.