We seek to dramatically improve math outcomes for students in grades 3-8, particularly Black and Latinx students and students of all races experiencing poverty – by strengthening the core assets every student has – executive function (EF) skills.
EF+Math is an advanced research and development (R&D) program that funds and supports teams of educators, researchers, and developers to co-create rigorous math learning approaches that improve learning outcomes and affirm the brilliance of Black and Latinx students and students experiencing poverty. These approaches are intentionally designed with educators and students at the center to be implemented in real-world classrooms. EF+Math is challenging the way educators and researchers think about how students learn, especially how students learn math.
Our North Star
Every student is a powerful learner capable of success in math. We want every student to know their innate abilities, know how to use them to take control of their own learning, and be given every opportunity to learn rigorous math.
EF+Math’s goal is to dramatically improve math outcomes for students in grades 3–8, particularly Black and Latinx students and students experiencing poverty, by strengthening the core assets every student has – executive function (EF) skills.
Watch EF+Math’s R&D teams share their promising new approaches to teaching and learning math while strengthening executive functioning skills with learners.
EF+Math releases Insights Report
EF+Math is pleased to release its Insights Report, Strengthening Executive Function Skills to Improve Mathematics Learning: Evidence of Promise from EF+Math’s Inclusive R&D Approach. At EF+Math, we are working to understand the promise of mathematics learning approaches in grades 3-8, co-designed with students and teachers using an Inclusive Research and Development (R&D) approach, that combines executive function (EF) skills, conceptual understanding and multi-step problem solving, and equity. Our Insights Report contains early evidence that suggests EF+Math’s model is leading to promising math learning approaches that are improving math and EF outcomes.
Our Approach: Creating Equitable Math Learning Approaches through Inclusive Research and Development (R&D)
To reach our goals, EF+Math supports teams of educators, researchers, and developers in developing math learning approaches using inclusive R&D processes. These teams are creating prototypes and research methods that support math learning and generate new knowledge about several learning science based hypotheses for how to improve math outcomes.
EF+Math’s core hypothesis is that developing students’ EF skills within high-quality math instructional approaches will improve math outcomes significantly. These math learning approaches support students in developing their conceptual understanding and multi-step problem solving skills, key math skills for improving math learning outcomes.
We hypothesize that by intentionally designing for equity and creating approaches that build on students’ cultural, social, and linguistic assets, foster a sense of belonging, and provide all students with opportunities to learn challenging math and develop their identity as math learners, math learning outcomes will improve. By designing for use in real-world classrooms, the math learning approaches will be more useful and usable, which we expect will lead ultimately to better outcomes.
Our focus on leveraging an Inclusive R&D model across all project teams is a crucial part of our approach. This model is an equity-focused process that puts Black and Latinx students, students living in poverty, educators, families, and communities at the center of developing transformative math learning approaches. EF+Math’s project teams are supported directly by our Educator Leadership Council, a cornerstone of our inclusive R&D model. The Council is a diverse group of 17 educators who work at the classroom, school, and district levels. Council members provide critical expertise in middle year (grades 3–8) math curriculum and instruction and deep experience working in districts that serve Black and Latinx students and students living in poverty.
What are Executive Function Skills? How are they Connected to Math learning?
Improving competencies known as ‘Executive Function (EF)’ skills can be a powerful lever to improve math learning.
- EF skills are foundational skills that all students possess that allow them to have agency over their attention, thoughts, emotions, and behavior. EF skills include the ability to hold and work with information in mind, the ability to focus attention on what a student deems important and ignore what she deems unimportant, and to be flexible in her thinking.
- EF+Math builds on a compelling research base showing:
- Strong EF skills are closely associated with strong math performance.
- Students from low-income households with strong EF skills demonstrate very similar math performance to their peers from higher-income households.