Giving Compass’ Take:
• Jacob Castaneda shares six steps for supporting high-aptitude math students in under-resourced schools, where they often go without proper materials.
• How can funders help schools implement these support solutions?
• Learn about building basic math skills.
Far too often, talented math students at schools in low-income communities barely have access to grade-level work, let alone advanced curricula. Common obstacles include high teacher turnover, insufficient resources and overcrowded classes. Math teachers must ensure that diverse groups of learners acquire a basic understanding of the material, and they may not have the capacity to meet the needs of their most accelerated students.
Rather than letting these high-aptitude students founder, we must find ways to nurture their talent. Students from higher-income high schools graduate from college with majors in science, technology, engineering and math at twice the rate (16 percent) of those from low-income high schools (8 percent).
Here are six strategies that teachers, coaches and administrators can use to try to encourage students to go beyond what their schools offer.
First, involve parents: One of the most important steps that teachers can take is to get parental buy-in. Parents want to see their children do well, but often are not plugged into the enrichment opportunities that are common in higher-income communities.
Second, partner with outside organizations: Schools can augment what they’re able to offer on their own by partnering with outside organizations.
Third, connect with local universities: Local universities often provide academic enrichment programs within their communities, but some of these programs may fly under the radar, like math circles and MESA.
Fourth, leverage online programs: A variety of free online programs offer challenging academic work as well, such as Alcumus on the “Art of Problem Solving” website.
Fifth, build a list of resources: Compiling a list of resources is a time-intensive project initially, but it’s well worth the effort.
Finally, look beneath the surface: Some students may not readily reveal their math aptitude in class, so it may take patience and creativity to discover it.
Read the full article about supporting math students in under-resourced schools by Jacob Castaneda at The Hechinger Report.
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