Students focused on workConnectED is thrilled to receive a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lead a 30-month partnership, led by Kiera Brodsky Chase and Jennifer Lutzenberger-Phillips, with Envision Learning Partners and the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). This project will pilot an integrated sequence of the Illustrative Mathematics (IM) curriculum in high school and create resources to support teachers and parents of middle and high school English Learners using the IM curricula, to increase opportunity and achievement for ELs.

This grant builds on and enhances the great work already underway in San Diego to make mathematics more engaging and relevant for all students, and especially for students learning in experiential, integrated environments such as those found in Linked Learning pathways. The Illustrative Mathematics curriculum has been adopted in San Diego Unified within a larger project called SDEM: San Diego Enhanced Mathematics. SDEM is supported by Dr. Patrick Callahan, a mathematician and educational reform consultant, and Vinci Daro, Director of STEM learning at Envision Learning Partners. Both are also IM curriculum co-authors. The Illustrative Mathematics curriculum represents a new and highly-rated way to “do math,” using research-based instructional routines to facilitate student learning.

SDUSD, second only to Los Angeles, serves the greatest number of ELs in California with 28,537 out of a 121,000 total student population in 2018. The district has as its overarching goal to significantly increase the number of students, especially those furthest from opportunity, who graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, career, and civic life. To that end, it has adopted Linked Learning as its primary high school improvement strategy.

In San Diego, and across the country, many English Learners enter high school mathematics courses unprepared to successfully participate in the conceptually challenging, collaborative conversations necessary for them to develop both academic language and deeper understanding of mathematics as required by the Common Core and other more rigorous state standards. Unfortunately, most adults — including teachers, school administrators, and parents — learned mathematics procedurally, by memorizing formulas, products, and processes.  As a result, many may never have developed a conceptual understanding — the “why” — of mathematics. This is a challenging situation for all parents and guardians seeking to help their students achieve success in mathematics, but especially so for language minority parents, who often face additional linguistic and cultural barriers.

This project will address these challenges by creating curriculum-embedded resources, support, and professional development strategies for parents and teachers of ELs that provide: 1) guidance to teachers, to use curriculum-embedded instructional routines to support ELs in mixed-ability student groups; 2) resources for parents, so they can develop their own conceptual understanding of mathematics in order to support students at home; and 3) a “badge-able” professional development approach for coaches, school leaders and district providers to successfully implement IM-aligned instructional routines, provide professional development to teachers, and monitor progress for all student sub-groups, including ELs.