Earlier this year, the National Assessment Governing Board released its Long-Term Trend Report, revealing that math scores for 13-year-old students in seventh and eighth grade had declined by nine points compared to 2020 and 14 points compared to a decade ago.
The Gates Foundation’s K-12 education strategy is centered on enhancing student outcomes by modernizing math education. I Photo: Greg Rubenstein Flickr
These scores had dropped to levels not seen since the 1990s, as noted by Bill Gates in his Gates Notes on October 4, 2023.
The Gates Foundation’s K-12 education strategy is centered on enhancing student outcomes by modernizing math education. This approach encompasses three key principles.
Firstly, math education should be personalized to cater to individual students, taking into account their unique interests, abilities, needs, and goals, with feedback tailored to their specific needs.
Secondly, it should emphasize interaction and communication, encouraging students to openly discuss their problem-solving approaches and collaborate to find solutions.
Thirdly, it should be practical and applied to complex, real-world problems that students recognize as existing beyond the confines of the classroom—ranging from budget design to population growth estimation.
Gates stated, "I had the opportunity to witness these three fundamental concepts in action during a visit to Chula Vista. This school is part of one of the foundation’s two Networks for School Improvement, overseen by the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. They are dedicated to helping more eighth graders succeed by providing support to teachers like Amilcar Fernandez as they strive to enhance the teaching and learning of math—and engage students in the process."
This approach even includes using popcorn containers to determine which shape is the most economical for holding popcorn at the movies.