The Urgent Need for Tailored Math Instruction
Teachers have long struggled with the tension between ensuring a rigorous education for all their students and the reality that students arrive at the start of a school year with vastly different skills and conceptual understandings. The tension can be even more acute in math, which relies heavily on students mastering foundational concepts in prior years. The last two years made matters far worse—especially for students from historically disadvantaged groups.
Given this trajectory, state policymakers, administrators, and teachers have choices to make. Should they double down on the teaching of grade-level material, as federal policies signal they ought? Or should they instead refocus instruction and systemic incentives on meeting each student where they are?
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