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Solving California's Mathematics Problem: Equity, Capacity, and Continuous Improvement

Meeting 37
December 4-5, 2018
Long Beach, California

California school districts have long struggled to help their students reach high levels of skill and understanding in mathematics. Yet outcomes on both state and national assessments continue to reveal a combination of low overall performance, slow growth over time, and persistently large gaps among student groups. In December 2018, the California Collaborative on District Reform convened to unpack the challenges underlying these results and explore strategies for addressing them. Meeting participants considered evidence and strategies from a range of school districts. They discussed capacity issues including teacher content knowledge, administrator training and support, and school systems that facilitate improvement. Meeting conversation also examined approaches to equity that include course sequencing and placement decisions, and state policies that might support efforts at the local level. Resources from the meeting are available below.

Meeting 37 Summary


Supplemental Materials

Briefing Book

Policy and practice briefs produced as an outcome from Meeting 37.

Pursuing Equity and Excellence in Mathematics: Course Sequencing and Placement in San Francisco
April 2019


In the face of stagnant achievement and persistent achievement gaps in mathematics, school districts have enacted a variety of changes to varying levels of success. On the heels of an Algebra for All model that failed to generate desired outcomes of students, San Francisco Unified School District adopted a policy in 2014 that dramatically changed its sequence of mathematics courses. The district completely de-tracked its middle school classes, enrolling all students in the same heterogeneously grouped courses for Grades 6, 7, and 8. San Francisco’s policy represents a significant departure from traditional approaches to organizing mathematics courses, and early outcomes appear to validate this approach. This brief describes the rationale behind the district’s decision, the nature of the new policy, and the promising results the district has experienced so far.