Systems Leadership for Math Improvement

Educational leaders need new approaches to support teaching that both engages students in rich learning and disrupts practices that create barriers to success for students of color, students from low income households, emergent bilingual students, and students from other historically marginalized groups. In the field of mathematics teaching, this means creating classrooms in which students from diverse backgrounds see themselves as competent mathematicians, equipped with strategies to solve meaningful problems.

We believe that educational leaders play a key role in transforming school systems with racial justice and instructional quality in mind. Strong principals, coaches, teacher-leaders, and central office leaders expand students’ learning opportunities by connecting with communities, re-imagining how schools and districts work, and supporting teachers to learn and implement ambitious and equitable instructional practices in their classrooms.

We engage with educators in the critical work of reshaping school systems and improving teaching practice to support success for historically marginalized and marginalized students. In partnership with school and district leaders in the Puget Sound Roadmap Region, we explore problems, develop tools, and design processes that increase leaders’ capacity to rethink systems and implement ambitious mathematics instruction. We build learning opportunities for educational leaders that address: 1) new ways of working and learning together, 2) inquiry-oriented, ambitious mathematics instruction, and 3) anti-racist leadership practices.

At the same time, we conduct systemic inquiry to develop theory and knowledge related to discipline-specific leadership practices and implementation at scale. Our research examines how educational leaders support teachers to learn about ambitious mathematics instruction and how they disrupt the current systems of racial inequity in mathematics instruction.

This work is funded through grants from the Gates Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the University of Washington Research Royalty Fund, and the National Science Foundation.