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A Guide to Detracking Math Courses

A Guide to Detracking Math Courses
The Journey to Realize Equity and Access in K-12 Mathematics Education

Foreword by Robert Q. Berry III

June 2023 | 248 pages | Corwin

Create a pathway to equity by detracking mathematics 

The tracked mathematics system has been operating in US schools for decades. However, research demonstrates negative effects on subgroups of students by keeping them in a single math track, thereby denying them access to rigorous coursework needed for college and career readiness. The journey to change this involves confronting some long-standing beliefs and structures in education.

When supported with the right structures, instructional shifts, coalition building, and educator training and support, the detracking of mathematics courses can be a primary pathway to equity. The ultimate goal is to increase more students’ access to and achievement in higher levels of mathematics learning–especially for students who are historically marginalized. Based on the stories and lessons learned from the San Francisco Unified School District educators who have talked the talk and walked the walk, this book provides a model for all those involved in taking on detracking efforts from policymakers and school administrators, to math coaches and teachers.

By sharing stories of real-world examples, lessons learned, and prompts to provoke discussion about your own context, the book walks you through: 

  • Designing and gaining support for a policy of detracked math courses
  • Implementing the policy through practical shifts in scheduling, curriculum, professional development, and coaching
  • Supporting and improving the policy through continuous research, monitoring, and maintenance. 

This book offers the big ideas that help you in your own unique journey to advance equity in your school or district’s mathematics education and also provides practical information to help students in a detracked system thrive.

Chapter 1: Your Guidebook to Detracking Math
Part 1: Developing a Policy for Detracked Math Courses
Chapter 2: Getting to Know Your Policy Context
Chapter 3: Designing a Detracked Math Course Policy
Chapter 4: Gaining Support for a Detracked Math Course Policy
Part 2: Implementing a Policy of Detracked Math Courses
Chapter 5: Math Curriculum to Support Heterogeneous Classrooms
Chapter 6: Professional Development to Support Heterogeneous Classrooms
Chapter 7: Coaching Teachers to Support Heterogeneous Classrooms
Part 3: Maintaining Detracked Math Course Practice
Chapter 8: Crafting School Schedules That Support Heterogeneous Classrooms
Chapter 9: Considering Research Throughout Your Math Detracking Journey
Chapter 10: Monitoring and Maintaining a Detracked Math Policy

One of the most insidious practices in education today is the way students are denied access to high-quality mathematics instruction through the practice of tracking. This groundbreaking book not only provides concrete examples of how to make college preparatory mathematics available to all students but also shares strategies to ensure that students are successful once enrolled.

Kyndall Brown
California Mathematics Project
Los Angeles, CA

A Guide to Detracking Math Courses recognizes the urgent need to rehumanize the math classroom and make mathematics equitable for all, serving as a compelling and comprehensive guide to help educators and administrators achieve these goals. This timely must-read inspires you to develop, implement, and maintain a system that creates opportunities for learning for all.

Nancy Nagatani
Hanford, CA

This is a book we’ve been waiting for! Beginning with the premise that all students are mathematically brilliant, and all teachers have strengths in
teaching and learning, the book captures the essence of one team’s journey to attain a detracked mathematics program. The authors provide questions to consider, reflective activities, lessons learned, and so much more to assist educators in creating equitable mathematics experiences for their students.

Shelly M. Jones
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, CT

Detracking a school district’s mathematics offerings means successfully working collaboratively through issues of policy, curriculum, professional
development, and more. This book highlights the issues involved, unpacks their complexities, points to resources, and helps readers adapt the ideas to their own district context. It will be an invaluable resource for schools and districts that want to detrack their mathematics courses, in the service of equitable and ambitious instruction.

Alan H. Schoenfeld
Berkeley, CA
University of California, Berkeley

A Guide to Detracking Math Courses is a well-executed guide for educators who genuinely want mathematics education reform. The detracking strategies in this book will challenge your sensibilities by stretching your comfort level with collaboration, deepening your relationships with all stakeholders, and changing the trajectory of the lives of students in a tangible way for the betterment of our entire society.

Christina Lincoln-Moore
Inglewood, CA

A Guide to Detracking Math Courses reveals the power of a shared commitment to the success of each and every student in detracked schools. More important, it offers a pragmatic and optimistic roadmap to challenging the narrative that students benefit from being sorted into courses based on past mathematics achievement. Our traditionally underserved students need advocates and changemakers; they are deserving of meaningful problem-solving opportunities that build conceptual understanding and prepare them to excel in advanced mathematics. Readers have multiple opportunities to reflect on their own presumptions about who can succeed in mathematics and what it means to be successful. It is a must-read for teachers, administrators, and community members who want and need to see the affordances of detracking.

Terrie M. Galanti
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, FL

Detracking is desegregation. This is the best thing we can do for all math students. There should be no gatekeepers and no barriers to students learning as much mathematics as they want to.

Rori Abernethy
CTA Instructional Leadership Corps
Oakland, CA

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ISBN: 9781071880746