Blueprint Schools Network

Blueprint Math Fellows: Closing the Math Achievement Gap

Equal opportunity in education

The Blueprint Math Fellows Program will implement an effective, scalable strategy for closing math achievement gaps that currently deny young people educational and economic opportunity.

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Every day and across the United States, disparities in math achievement are a stark reminder that we are failing to provide educational and economic opportunity to all of our children. Students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds not only perform worse, on average, on math assessments but are less likely to take and pass high school math courses that give them the option of college. This is a waste of human potential and a social injustice.All young people are capable of strong math performance when offered the supports that the most advantaged take for granted. The Blueprint Math Fellows Program provides free, personalized, small-group math tutoring to elementary, middle, and high school students, and proposes to close achievement gaps at scale with this simple but powerful solution. Raising math proficiency for socioeconomically disadvantaged students is a feasible and effective way to improve and equalize educational, economic, and life outcomes.

Problem Statement

Young people from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately shut out from higher education and jobs because of poor math skills. On math assessments, students from higher-income families consistently earn substantially higher average scores than their peers from lower-income families, while White and Asian/Pacific Islander students outperform Black and Hispanic students. Students from more advantaged backgrounds are more likely to attempt and complete a sequence of math courses that keeps them on track for college, including Algebra I and Calculus. These patterns in coursetaking and achievement are pronounced, widespread, and have persisted for decades. As technology continues to transform the economy, the math skills gap is increasingly consequential.In the United States, math achievement gaps exist because opportunities are unequally distributed across both schools and families. Students from more advantaged backgrounds often attend schools with better facilities, more qualified and experienced teachers, and peers who share many of their advantages. Their families provide supplementary resources, including private tutoring and other afterschool and summer enrichment. As advantages accrue over time, disparities in proficiency widen.The K-12 math education system in the United States is blocking hundreds of thousands of students from their right to pursue a wide range of opportunities after high school and to improve their own life trajectories. This is an urgent issue of civil rights and social justice. Raising the level of math proficiency for socioeconomically disadvantaged students is a feasible and effective way to improve and equalize educational, economic, and life outcomes.

Solution Overview

Blueprint’s solution is to provide free, personalized, small-group tutoring in math to elementary, middle, and high school students as part of their daily experience in school. We believe that there is a deep pool of people who can effectively teach math to 4 students at a time compared to the number of people who can effectively teach to a classroom of 24. By thinking differently about human capital, we are changing the way math instruction is delivered in the US and providing high-quality tutoring to students who can’t afford the extra help and support widely available to students in more affluent communities.In the Blueprint Math Fellows Program, students attend a 45-60 minute daily math tutorial to supplement their primary math class. Led by Blueprint Math Fellows (typically recent college graduates from diverse backgrounds), each session follows a consistent, research-based framework and includes no more than four students, facilitating customization and trust. Progress is demonstrated through student performance on daily “exit tickets,” local and state assessments, and surveys, with an external impact evaluation to be conducted during the grant period.As the 100&Change grantee, Blueprint would have deep impact on at least five U.S. communities serving an estimated 30,000 students over five years. In parallel, Blueprint would prepare the Math Fellows Program for dramatically wider (and sustainable) scale. The Blueprint Math Fellows Program offers a realistic path to closing math achievement gaps and therefore eliminating a substantial driver of unequal educational and economic outcomes.

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