Boaler, Jo, & Staples, Megan
Creating Mathematical Futures Through an Equitable Teaching Approach: The Case of Railside School
Stanford University, University of Connecticut
Gain a better understanding of equitable and successful teaching by analyzing Railside's success.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Teacher College Record
Vol. 110, No. 3, pp. 608-645
- Results found success of Railside school, where the mathematics department taught heterogeneous classes using a reform-oriented approach. Compared with the other two schools in the study, Railside students learned more, enjoyed mathematics more and progressed to higher mathematics levels.
- Railside students started at significantly lower levels and ended Year 2 at significantly higher levels.
- The Railside mathematics teachers were also extremely successful at reducing the achievement gap between groups of students belonging to different ethnic groups at the school.
- In addition to high achievement, the students at Railside also enjoyed mathematics more than the students in the other approach.
- In terms of future plans, all of the students interviews at Railside intended to pursue more mathematics courses compared with 67% of students from the traditional classes, and 39% of Railside students planned a future in mathematics compared.
- Students at Railside reported that they learned to value students who came from very different backgrounds to themselves because of the approach of their mathematics classes.
- Railside followed a practice of 'block scheduling' and lessons were 90 minutes long, with courses taking place over half a school year, rather than a full academic year. In Railside, the students could take two mathematics classes each year. This meant that students could fail classes, start at lower levels, and/or choose not to take mathematics in a particular semester and still reach calculus. Curriculum in Railside emphasized on groupworthy problems (those that illustrate important mathematical concepts, allow for multiple representations, include tasks that draw effectively on the collective resources of a group, and have several possible solution paths".
- At Railside the teachers employed additional strategies to make groupwork successful. They adopted an approach called complex instruction designed by Cohen and Lotan for use in all subject areas. The system is designed to counter social and academic status differences in classrooms, starting from the premise that status differences do not emerge because of particular students but because of group interactions. The recommended practices included in this approach are: multidimensional classrooms, roles, assigning competence, teaching students to be responsible for each other's learning.
- In addition teachers in Railside high school had high cognitive demands for the children , teachers emphasized that high achievement in mathematics was a product of hard work and not of innate ability, they also had very clear expectations and learning practices that were clearly explained to students.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Classroom Composition, Curriculum, Heterogeneous Grouping, Math, SES Composition, Teachers
Content Analysis, Interviews, Participant observation, Survey
Method of Analysis:
Three California High Schools
Unit of Analysis:
- Participants included approximately 700 students as they progressed through three California high schools.
- Three high schools are: Railside (urban high school with an ethnically, linguistically and economically diverse student body), Greendale (situated in a coastal community with a more homogenous, primarily White student body), and Hilltop (rural high school with primarily White and Latino/a students).
- These three schools were chosen because they enabled observation and study of three different mathematics teaching approaches.
- Greendale and Hilltop schools offered students (and parents) a choice between a traditional sequence of courses, taught using conventional methods of demonstration and practice, and an integrated sequence of courses in which students worked on a more open, applied curriculum called the Interactive Mathematics Program.
- Railside school used a reform-oriented approach and did not offered a choice. Besides the class was heterogeneous.
- Used observation to monitor and analyze the teaching practices in the three schools. Researchers observed approximately 600 hours of lessons, many of which were taped.
- Used quantitative analysis of time allocation during lessons. Coded the mutually exclusive categories of the ways in which students spent time in class (such as teacher talking, teacher questioning the whole class, students working alone, and students working in groups).
- Also interviewed at least 60 students in each of the four years that students attended high school. In addition, also administered questionnaires to all of the students in the focus cohorts in Years 1,2, and 3 of the study, when most students were required to take mathematics.
- Did a detailed analysis of the questions teachers asked students dividing their questions into such categories as probing, extending, and orienting.
- Also gathered data on the students' scores on state administered tests. Specifically, data from the CAT6 and the California Standards Test of algebra.
- Study centered upon the affordances of different curricula and the ensuing teaching and learning interactions in classrooms.