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

NASBE’s Standard Highlights Opportunities to Advance Math and Science Instruction


Alexandria, VA—All students can be good at math and science, yet many students disengage out of boredom or a belief that they cannot excel in either. Moreover, math achievement gaps widened during the pandemic, and experiential learning was hampered.  Addressing these challenges requires a different approach to instruction, say the authors of NASBE’s latest State Education Standard. They advance reasons for building educators’ capacity to pinpoint gaps in learning so it is possible for all students to achieve mastery and to help students understand math and science concepts and their relevance in the world around them.

Jennifer Sattem, Matt Dawson, and Elizabeth Peyser from Curriculum Associates address students’ lost opportunities to learn math during the pandemic and suggest that state leaders ensure that educators have top-notch curriculum, professional learning, and a shared understanding of what content is essential for propelling students toward grade-level proficiency. New Classrooms’ Joel Rose and Michael Watson also call for math acceleration but suggest that state policymakers can make a bigger impact by changing systemic incentives away from a grade-level focus toward instruction tailored to address the wide range of students’ needs.

For the University of Virginia’s Beth Schueler, targeted high-dosage tutoring and vacation academy programs can boost student achievement while reducing educational inequities for students hardest hit by COVID-19. Too many students lack access to high-quality, inquiry-based science education and got less during the pandemic, according to AIR’s Bobbi Newman, who suggests several ways state boards can lean into efforts to boost K-12 science literacy.

Stanford’s Jo Boaler and Jennifer Langer-Osuna offer four key considerations that should factor into states’ development of math improvement plans that are intended to engage all students, boost achievement, and better prepare them for STEM careers. These include opening high-level pathways to more students, teaching big ideas and connections, teaching through collaboration and discussion, and encouraging data literacy. According to the University of Southern California’s Yasemin Copur-Gencturk, strong preparation for math teachers that addresses inherent biases and fragmented math understanding is critical to revitalized math instruction, particularly for students of color and students from low-income families.

Ryan Fuhrman, chair of the Wyoming State Board of Education, brings his experience as a science educator and board member to bear in reflections on the development of the state’s Profile of a Graduate. Randy Spaulding, executive director of the Washington state board, and outgoing Mississippi student member Amy Zhang provide perspectives on advancing STEM education in their respective states.

Elisha Smith Arrillaga and Dave Kung from the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas–Austin join NASBE’s Paolo DeMaria to conclude the issue with a conversation about what states can do to bust the pervasive myth that math is not for everyone. “It is not acceptable to say, ‘I can’t read,’” says Smith Arrillaga. “We should have that same reaction about math.”

Read and share the math and science issue of the State Education Standard.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org

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