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MathPOWER collaborates with public schools and community-base organizations in Greater Boston to promote and to advocate for math literacy and proficiency in advanced mathematics for all students, particularly students in urban school districts. MathPOWER is dedicated to promoting the learning of advanced mathematics in urban schools.
Within the course of its short history, MathPOWER has charted a responsive course amidst some powerful waves of change. Nestled in the community context of school desegregation as a result of court rulings in the mid-1970s, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) continue to face challenges in addressing the widening achievement gap scores that exist between more privileged school children and school children within urban environments. The BPS System has a preponderance of students from minority and/or underrepresented populations. The following statements reflect some of the current facts and demographics within the BPS System:
- Of the 57,000+ students attending Boston Public Schools, 42% are Black, 35% are Hispanic, 14% are White, and 9% are Asian
- Of the estimated 77,000 school age children living in Boston, some 19,000+ (or 26%) do not attend Boston Public Schools. Of the 19,000+ students who live in Boston but attend schools outside of the BPS, 45% are Black, 40% are White, 11% are Hispanic, and 3% are Asian
- 71% of BPS students are eligible to receive free meals in school
- Approximately 20% (11,170) of the total students in the BPS system have disabilities and are enrolled in special education programs
- Approximately 10,390 students within the BPS system are "English Language Learners (ELL) or Limited English Proficient (LEP). The five most common languages of these students include: Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Cape Verdean Creole, and Vietnamese
- The Class of 2006 had a 59% graduation rate (within four years) from high school; that rate rises to 67% if students transferring into the system are not included in the base figure
- Average scores on the SAT I Tests (Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing) for the Class of 2006 fall below the State and the US averages
- Currently the BPS teacher demographics consist of 25% Black, 61% White, 9% Hispanic, and 5% Asian.
The Boston Public Schools have assumed increasing challenges associated with educating a more diverse student body amidst a time of rising expectations for student learning outcomes. Since its inception, MathPOWER has played a key role in providing professional development (coaching) to teachers within the BPS system. Ten years ago, MathPOWER began offering an Algebra Plus Summer Camp to support students' learning of advanced mathematics. And, depending on the predominant challenge of the moment, the organization has focused its advocacy efforts on raising expectations that all students are capable of learning advanced mathematics and in promoting expanded pedagogical approaches to support student learning.
- Erin Doherty
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