Arizona’s adoption of new, more rigorous math standards in 2012 provided a unique opportunity to change the way math is taught for all students, especially those in high-needs schools. Building upon MAC-Ro’s foundations and recognizing that teachers are the key, Math 20/20 sought to go both deeper and wider.
It recognized that elementary school teachers are not immune to the ailment that afflicts our society generally – they too, suffer from math anxiety and sometimes lack confidence in their own math ability – beliefs that prevent effective teaching. Math 20/20 also recognized that the way young children learn math, how mathematical content develops and how it can best be taught are not concepts typically emphasized in teacher preparation programs.
So, Math 20/20 went deep, providing 50 hours of grade-specific teacher training over the course of the school year. It went wide by asking superintendents to establish Math 20/20 as a district-wide initiative. The commitment was not just to improve an individual classroom or even a school, but to improve the entire district. Success required a system-wide focus with strong leadership at the top building an engaged coalition of teachers, instructional coaches, principals and families, all of whom were committed not only to improving math scores but also to changing the culture around math in the school and in the community.