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Equity & the Opportunity Gap in Math

Barth, P. (2016). Educational equity: What does it mean? How do we know when we reach it? Center for Public Education. Retrieved from

This report argues that an effective measure of educational equity would be to ensure that all students have access to adequate resources. To make its case, the report considers such issues as funding, availability of an advanced curriculum, teacher quality, and discipline policies. For example, historical access to upper level math classes such as Algebra II and Trigonometry has been limited, and disproportionately available to more advantaged students. By this measure, US schools have improved since 1990, with three quarters of students taking these courses in 2009, and racial gaps to access nearly closed. However, some schools still struggle to provide access to all student, with 11 percent of schools not even offering Algebra I in 2012. The report closes with recommendations for improving equity.

Gutiérrez, R. (2009). Framing equity: Helping students framing equity: Helping students “play the game” and “change the game.” Teaching for Excellence and Equity In Mathematics, 1(1), 5–7. Retrieved from

The author argues that efforts to achieve equity in high quality math instruction requires attention to four key dimensions: access, achievement, identity, and power. Access encompasses students’ resources (or lack thereof), such as high-quality teachers, materials, curriculum, and funding. Achievement is focused on performance outcomes and whether all students are succeeding in their mastery of academic content. Identity addresses whether the content is being taught in culturally relevant and responsive ways so that students see themselves in the material. Power addresses whether students are learning to be critical of their societies and question systems that limit their access to power. In her experience as a math education researcher, the author has seen many teachers incorporate one or more components in their instruction, but asserts that all four are essential to resolving equity issues in mathematics.

**Flores, A. (2007). Examining disparities in mathematics education: Achievement gap or opportunity gap?. The High School Journal, 91(1).  Retrieved from

This paper digs into math test scores and other educational data in the hopes of determining the root causes of the achievement gap between African American and Latino students and their White and Asian American counterparts. After presenting differences in test scores, the author shifts the frame to focus on student access to resources—qualified teachers, culturally-relevant education, upper-level classes, and adequate funding—and suggests that such gaps in opportunity result in gaps in achievement. The paper closes with examples of high-quality education in minority classrooms. Though based on older test scores, this piece highlights important contributing factors to inequity in mathematics.

**This document is considered a priority reading.