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William F. Tate

The purpose of this article is to document changes in U.S. mathematics achievement by reviewing national trend studies, college admissions examinations, and Advanced Placement tests. This article examined this quantitative research literature to determine trends in mathematics achievement of various social groups defined along lines of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and language proficiency. The findings of this review indicate that over the last 15 years all demographic groups have improved in mathematics achievement—specifically, in basic skills. Moreover, the mathematics achievement gap is slowly closing between White students and students of color on assessments of basic skills. Males tended to outperform females on standardized measures; however, gender differences were small and generally not significant. Consistent with past reviews of mathematics achievement, course taking was a powerful variable, often resulting in similar achievement gains across diverse groups. This finding has serious implications for equity-related policy. The article concludes with two other recommendations: the need for fiscal and cultural policy to support standards-based reform.

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Danny Bernard Martin

Critical scholars have argued that mathematics education is in danger of becoming increasingly influenced by and aligned with neoliberal and neoconservative market-focused projects. Although this larger argument is powerful, there are often 2 peculiar responses to issues of race and racism within these analyses. These responses are characterized by what the author sees as an unfortunate backgrounding of these issues in some analyses or a conceptually flawed foregrounding in others. These responses obscure the evidence that, beyond being aligned with the market-oriented goals of these projects, mathematics education has also been aligned with their prevailing racial agendas.

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Addressing Racism

JRME Equity Special Issue Editorial Panel

Beatriz D'Ambrosio, Marilyn Frankenstein, Rochelle Gutiérrez, Signe Kastberg, Danny Bernard Martin, Judit Moschkovich, Edd Taylor and David Barnes

This is a dialogue extracted from a conversation among some members of the Equity Special Issue Editorial Panel (Beatriz D'Ambrosio; Marilyn Frankenstein; Rochelle Gutiérrez, Special Issue editor; Signe Kastberg; Danny Martin; Judit Moschkovich; Edd Taylor; and David Barnes) about racism in mathematics education. It raises issues about the use of terms such as race and racism; understanding fields of research outside of mathematics education; the kinds of racialization processes that occur for students, teachers, and researchers; the social context of students; the achievement gap; and the role of mathematics education in the production of race.

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Introduction to the JRME Equity Special Issue

JRME Equity Special Issue Editorial Panel

Beatriz D'Ambrosio, Marilyn Frankenstein, Rochelle Gutiérrez, Signe Kastberg, Danny Bernard Martin, Judit Moschkovich, Edd Taylor and David Barnes

This article provides an introduction to the JRME Equity Special Issue. It includes a rationale for the special issue, the process for selecting articles, and a description of the kinds of articles that will appear in the special issue. It concludes with a set of questions that teachers and researchers can and should ponder as they read the articles in the special issue.

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Amy Noelle Parks and Mardi Schmeichel

This Research Commentary builds on a 2-stage literature review to argue that there are 4 obstacles to making a sociopolitical turn in mathematics education that would allow researchers to talk about race and ethnicity in ways that take both identity and power seriously: (a) the marginalization of discussions of race and ethnicity; (b) the reiteration of race and ethnicity as independent variables; (c) absence of race and ethnicity from mathematics education research; and (d) the minimizing of discussions of race and ethnicity, even within equity-oriented work.

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Positioning Oneself in Mathematics Education Research

JRME Equity Special Issue Editorial Panel

Beatriz D'Ambrosio, Marilyn Frankenstein, Rochelle Gutiérrez, Signe Kastberg, Danny Bernard Martin, Judit Moschkovich, Edd Taylor and David Barnes

This dialogue, also extracted from a conversation among members of the Equity Special Issue Editorial Panel, involves the role of a researcher's position in mathematics education. It raises issues about the non-neutrality of research; the relationship between a researcher's identity and the design, analysis, and conclusions of a research study; the benefits for researchers and participants in positioning oneself; and the role of mathematics education in this endeavor.

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Robert Q. Berry III

This article is about 8 African American middle school boys who have experienced success in mathematics. Working within a phenomenological methodological framework, the researcher investigated the limitations these students encounter and the compensating factors they experience. Critical race theory was the theoretical framework for this study; counter-storytelling was utilized to capture the boys' experiences, which is in stark contrast to the dominant literature concerning African American males and mathematics. Five themes emerged from the data: (a) early educational experiences, (b) recognition of abilities and how it was achieved, (c) support systems, (d) positive mathematical and academic identity, and (e) alternative identities.

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Tamsin Meaney, Tony Trinick and Uenuku Fairhall

In this article, we explore how a school in Aotearoa [New Zealand] infuses the identity of Indigenous students into the school-based curriculum through the promotion of their language and culture in mathematics lessons. Bernstein's pedagogic device illustrates how teachers' practices were influenced by being able to think the “unthinkable.” This came from the contestation that arose when competing bodies of knowledge had to be integrated both at the school level and at the classroom level. For equity to be achieved regarding students' mathematics learning, parents' and the community's aspirations for students' education need to be infused into debates about the knowledge that teachers are expected to include in their teaching. This enables the local context to make a positive contribution to students' learning. It also implies that programs for improvement should not be imposed on schools unless there are opportunities for them to be adapted to the needs of individual schools.

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Indigo Esmonde and Jennifer M. Langer-Osuna

In this article, mathematics classrooms are conceptualized as heterogeneous spaces in which multiple figured worlds come into contact. The study explores how a group of high school students drew upon several figured worlds as they navigated mathematical discussions. Results highlight 3 major points. First, the students drew on 2 primary figured worlds: a mathematics learning figured world and a figured world of friendship and romance. Both of these figured worlds were racialized and gendered, and were actively constructed and contested by the students. Second, these figured worlds offered resources for 1 African American student, Dawn, to position herself powerfully within classroom hierarchies. Third, these acts of positioning allowed Dawn to engage in mathematical practices such as conjecturing, clarifying ideas, and providing evidence.

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David W. Stinson

This article shows how equity research in mathematics education can be decentered by reporting the “voices” of mathematically successful African American male students as they recount their experiences with school mathematics, illustrating, in essence, how they negotiated the White male math myth. Using post-structural theory, the concepts discourse, person/identity, and power/agency are reinscribed or redefined. The article also shows that using a post-structural reinscription of these concepts, a more complex analysis of the multiplicitous and fragmented robust mathematics identities of African American male students is possible—an analysis that refutes simple explanations of effort. The article concludes, not with “answers,” but with questions to facilitate dialogue among those who are interested in the mathematics achievement and persistence of African American male students—and equity and justice in the mathematics classroom for all students.