Math education: Raising expectations for engaging instruction
When scores on the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress were released in October 2022, we saw the greatest decline in fourth- and eighth-grade math scores ever captured in the test's 50-year history. We didn't need those scores, however, to know that in too many K-12 classrooms, math is a chore and not a joy – and a proven barrier to high school and even college graduation, especially for Black and brown students. That's why we are investing US$1.1 billion over four years to improve the quality of math instruction for all kids.
當美國國家教育進展評估（National Assessment of education Progress）在2022 年10月公布結果時，我們看到四年級和八年級的數學分數出現了這項測試50年歷史上的最大滑坡。然而，我們不需要這些分數就能知道，在太多K-12教室里，數學都是件苦差事，而非樂趣——事實證明，數學還是高中乃至大學畢業的障礙，尤其是對黑人和棕色人種的學生來說。這就是為什么我們將在四年內投資11億美元以提高面向所有孩子的數學教學質量。
As a share of U.S. education spending, that's not a huge amount – only about one-sixth of what's likely to be spent on public schools in Wyoming, America's least populous state, over that time. But we hope it will make a big difference nonetheless.
Most educators say the math curriculum they're given is not engaging, effective, or relevant to their students' lives. They spend lots of time – of which they have so little – adapting the materials or creating their own. Yet educational publishing companies have not done nearly enough to understand what teachers want and students need and improve what's available.
So we are. We'll be funding teams of school districts and universities to conduct research, which they'll define, on what works and what doesn't in elementary and middle school math instruction. Educational technologies that give teachers more tools in their toolkit will be part of that effort, as will new approaches to teacher training and even the variety of math courses offered.
With a consortium of other funders, we will partner with a small number of innovative publishers and educational technology companies to develop amazing new products; evaluate their efficacy in improving motivation, engagement, and persistence; and make the best of them available to as many classrooms as possible.
Our ultimate goal is not just to foster the development of better, more engaging math materials that serve the students furthest behind standards, but also to prove to major publishers that there's a market for those materials. If we do our job well, publishers will take it upon themselves to create better resources too.
The promise ahead
While we're optimistic about the potential for progress, we're also realistic. When it comes to the issues we work on, this is the toughest period in the foundation's history. And the challenges the world faces aren't likely to be resolved in 2023.
That means we'll be looking for even more effective ways to accelerate innovation and spur action toward the global goals.
That doesn't mean we will set the agenda of multilateral organizations like WHO and the Global Fund. Nor will we decide which malaria drugs regulators approve, or what research scientists pursue. We won't decide which seeds farmers plant in their fields or which curriculum a school system adopts or whether a bed net is hung in a home.
Our role is to ensure that decision-makers – be they school board members or cassava growers or health ministers – have the best possible options to choose from and the best possible data to inform their decisions. But make no mistake: Where there's a solution that can improve livelihoods and save lives, we'll advocate persistently for it.
We won't stop using our influence, along with our monetary commitments, to find solutions – as long as hundreds of thousands of children die of malaria just because of where they live, as long as students of color and low-income students don't have equitable educational opportunities, and as long as famine threatens entire populations.
We see so much promise ahead, and we're excited to play a part in realizing it.
Chief Executive Officer