The only organization dedicated solely to helping state boards advance equity and excellence in public education.

All students need to gain the comfort, confidence, and capability to understand and use math. It is essential to their future success as well as to meeting businesses’ needs for a highly skilled workforce. All students should come to know the joy of mathematics and its tremendous utility in their lives and future work. They should see themselves as learners and doers of mathematics—yet many do not. Great examples of improvements in preK-12 literacy achievement are emerging across the country, but reform in math is far more rare. How can state boards of education bring more attention to this essential field of knowledge?

Almost every job, success in education beyond high school, and active participation as a citizen requires some level of math competency. Many states have updated their math content standards to respond to the changing needs of a modern digital society, including more emphasis on areas like statistics and data science, and leveraging technology when appropriate. However, a wide gulf remains between the mathematics taught in classrooms and what is needed in modern careers.

Data shows that many students are not succeeding in mathematics. The data also show clear achievement gaps across student populations. Many career options and life choices are closed off when the education system is not helping students acquire the math skills needed for success. The pandemic only exacerbated these low levels of student achievement and gaps.

In response, NASBE invites state board members and selected other interested individuals to come together to examine mathematics achievement and promising approaches to improve it.


Study Group Goal

Our goal for this study group is to equip state boards and other interested state-level stakeholders with information and understanding that will help them prioritize, plan, and catalyze action to ensure that many more students acquire the mathematical knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for success in life. With the right consensus building, planning, strategy co-design, and implementation support, states can create the conditions that lead to better math instruction and improved student outcomes.


Study Group Approach

NASBE routinely assembles study groups to deepen members’ understanding of a pressing topic. Our study group approach is driven by the following objectives:

  • Raise awareness and understanding. A precursor to action is better understanding of the issue, the challenges, and successful approaches. Math education is an area where we need to do better. A key element of this work is helping more adults (policymakers, teachers, etc.), understand and appreciate their own experience of math and that everyone can be good at math.
  • Share data, research, and evidence. Empower participants with data, research, and evidence to support the case for action as well as approaches that have proven effective.
  • Identify exemplars. Show that change can happen. Highlight states, districts, and schools that are making a difference.
  • Inspire action. Help show the way for state board members and partners to chart a path toward improvement in their state.
  • Present information in a neutral way that honors state choice. Present the best data and information in a neutral, unbiased way. Make sure various perspectives are shared. No particular strategy or product will be promoted or endorsed. Respect will be given to a state’s prerogative to design state-based approaches based on state circumstances and contexts.


Study Group Activities

We accomplish these objectives through webinars; presentations by experts, researchers, and practitioners; shared readings; and conference sessions. NASBE will also draw on key themes and expertise highlighted in the recently released issue of the State Education Standard on Advancing Math and Science Instruction. Specifically, for this study group, we are planning the following:

  • initial one-on-one phone call (15-20 minutes) with the study group manager to gauge participants’ interests and objectives.
  • virtual meeting 1 (45 minutes): introduction to the project; data
  • virtual meeting 2 (75 minutes): research and evidence
  • virtual meeting 3 (75 minutes): best-practice exemplars; state next steps
  • NASBE Annual Conference session: Reflections and Progress of the Mathematics Improvement Study Group (optional)

There are no set deliverables for this study group, only a commitment of participants’ time and interest. In between meetings, the project will share short optional readings and videos on relevant topics. The schedule of activities will be adjusted to meet the individual and collective needs of participants. All sessions will be recorded. The study group will kick off the summer and we envision this work unfolding at least through the NASBE Annual Conference in late October 2022. Depending on interest and need, it may extend for a longer period.


How to Apply

Members of state boards, board staff, and staff at state education agencies (for example, mathematics curriculum directors), individually or in teams, are all welcome to participate in the State Mathematics Improvement Study Group and apply. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact NASBE President and CEO, and study group manager, Paolo DeMaria.


Math Improvement Study Group Application

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