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California’s new math framework has powerful potential to close students’ knowledge gaps

August 23, 2023 Joel Rose | EdSource

“Most of the ink spilled on the new California Mathematics Framework was focused on two debates that have persisted in K-12 education for decades: whether progressive or traditional forms of pedagogy serve students best and how to navigate tensions between equity and excellence.

Meanwhile, one of the more transformative shifts initiated by the state’s new guidance on K-12 math instruction has flown under the radar.

The change is captured by two words that appear together 36 times in this framework but not once in the prior version: grade bands.”

In his new opinion editorial for EdSource, New Classrooms CEO Joel Rose discusses the potential captured in California’s new Mathematics Framework. The new California Mathematics Framework may have focused on pedagogical methods and equity issues, but a significant shift has gone unnoticed. The adoption of “grade bands,” as opposed to focusing solely on individual grade levels, marks a transformative change. The grade band approach now part of the new California Mathematics Framework involves learning progressions within mathematical concepts across multiple grade levels, allowing educators to address individual student needs effectively.

This departure from the previous approach, which often resulted in learning gaps and hindered progress, offers teachers the flexibility to help students catch up on missed foundational skills or challenge those ready for advanced material. The new framework aligns with personalized learning and research-backed approaches but faces challenges from federal education policies tied to grade-level tests. To maximize its potential, education leaders need to encourage schools to adopt this new approach, providing the necessary resources and training to shift from grade-level to grade-banded instruction. This change has the potential to better meet student needs and accelerate their learning, bridging gaps and ensuring progress in math for all students.

Read more from New Classrooms CEO Joel Rose in his op-ed for EdSource.