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Common Core Math

Accessing Algebra through Inquiry (a2i)

Over the next five years, New Visions for Public Schools is implementing a math common core project in thirty schools in partnership with the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative (SVMI), funded by an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Called "Accessing Algebra through Inquiry" (a2i), its goal is to maximize student and teacher learning in mathematics through the use of formative assessments, performance assessments provided by SVMI, teacher-led inquiry, and ongoing professional development. A2i is designed as an on-ramp and pathway towards students achieving Common Core Learning Standards in mathematics. 

Teams of teachers across the first 14 participating schools, all in the Bronx, are planning and teaching the same algebraic concepts at roughly the same time, embedding formative assessment strategies in instruction nearly every day.  Every unit begins with a pre-unit task and ends with a post-unit task.  Two-thirds into each unit, teachers enact an formative assessment lesson, an engaging small group activity that intended to deepen students' understanding of unit content,and uncover any confusion or misconception that remains. 

Facilitated by a New Visions math instructional specialist, teachers meet weekly as teams within their schools and monthly across schools to look closely at student work together to make instructional decisions and to share successful strategies. This inquiry approach allows teachers to act quickly when they uncover misconceptions and gaps in student understanding, immediately planning "re-engagement lessons" to address learning issues. 

Over time, teachers will:

  • improve their ability to engineer effective tasks;
  • coach students to productively struggle with algebraic concepts;
  • embed formative assessment into their daily class work;
  • understand and address student misconceptions;
  • effectively question students to elicit their understanding;
  • provide constructive feedback;
  • and create an environment where students can learn from one another.

In subsequent years, this work will extend to geometry and algebra II and trigonometry classes and to an additional 16 New Visions schools. We will widely disseminate the lessons learned and support replication within the northeast region, particularly in Boston.  The project will be evaluated by Rockman et al.  It is advised by a distinguished group of leading math educators and school reformers from across the country headed by Magdalene Lampert, George Herbert Mead Professor of Education at the University of Michigan.