Friday, April 24, 2009

Jo Boaler

I have posted about Jo Boaler previously and her critique of the National Math Panel Report.  Jo Boaler has just had a new book published called "What's Math Got to Do With It? Helping Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject - and 
Why It's Important for America. (Viking/Penguin).

Dr. Boaler has also researched and written numerous articles on mathematics education.  Her most recent research which she spoke about at NCTM was Creating Mathematical Futures through an Equitable Teaching Approach: The Case of Railside School.

The low and inequitable mathematics performance of students in urban American high schools has been identified as a critical issue contributing to societal inequities. In an effort to better the field’s understanding of equitable and successful teaching, we report results from a five-year longitudinal study of approximately 700 students as they progressed through three high schools.   One of the findings of the study was the important success of “Railside” school, where the mathematics department had detracked classes some years ago and taught through a reform-oriented approach. At Railside school students learned more, enjoyed mathematics more and progressed to higher mathematics levels. This paper presents large-scale evidence of these important achievements and provides detailed analyses of the ways that the\ Railside teachers brought them about, with a focus on the teaching and learning interactions within the classrooms.

The mathematical success shared by many students at Railside gave them access to mathematical careers, higher-level jobs and more secure financial futures. The fact that the teachers were able to achieve this through a multidimensional, reform-oriented approach at a time in California when unidimensional mathematics work and narrow test performance was all that was valued (Becker & Jacob, 2000) may give other teachers hope that working for equity and mathematical understanding against the constraints the system provides is both possible and worthwhile.


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