Partner Profile: ConnectED

ConnectED has worked to change public education and improve student outcomes for over 15 years. The organization was founded with the belief that every student deserves a great education – especially those furthest from opportunity. ConnectED works with school districts, colleges, and employers to create learning opportunities for students that help prepare them for success in college, career, and life. We broker partnerships that span K-12 schools, postsecondary education, and workforce to address systemic barriers that perpetuate educational inequalities.

To deliver on this promise ConnectED, in partnership with Envision Learning Partners, recognizes the very significant and real barrier that mathematics has traditionally played. Decades of research in a number of fields have consistently revealed that secondary mathematics, and in particular Algebra I, play a major gatekeeping role for post-secondary education and career opportunities. The transition from arithmetic to algebra involves a significant shift in reasoning and talking about equivalence, which is a fundamental concept in mathematics. The risks associated with underperformance in math are greatest for students who are historically underrepresented in postsecondary education such as students of color, youth from low-income households, and multilingual learners. 

In response, ConnectED and ELP are working together to develop shared approaches, tools, and resources that support our partner districts to take their mathematics learning to the next level. Our approaches build student, teacher and leaders’ capacities with the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum to both strengthen the effectiveness of math instruction and improve student learning and engagement by making math more relevant for young people. Our work centers the use of embedded Mathematics Language Routines as drivers for building student-centered learning experiences, and as research-based strategies to simultaneously support mathematics and language learning for multilingual learners. 

Specific Regional Solution

For the past 5 years ConnectED and ELP have been working closely with the San Diego Enhanced Mathematics Initiative. In this collaboration we have supported the district to build a coherent instructional system to support a new approach to mathematics; to pilot a new curriculum; to develop supplemental materials and projects; to support teachers and school sites; and to work closely with district leadership to develop and monitor implementation plans. The team in San Diego has developed a strong vision for modernizing mathematics for all. This work has predominantly been serving middle schools, with a growing number of piloting elementary schools and a few piloting high schools. 

For the past 3 years ConnectED and ELP had also been supporting West Contra Costa Unified School District and Colton Joint Unified School District. Both districts are working to develop coherent instructional systems in mathematics through supporting middle schools to pilot and adopt high quality curriculum and cultivate aligned instructional approaches. 

Video Club

Over the past 2 years, ConnectED and ELP have been piloting and researching the use of an approach to Professional Learning called Video Club. In Video Club, an Algebra 1 teacher, for example, brings a video clip from their classroom to share with other Algebra 1 teachers. Using ConnectED’s video analysis tagging tool, rewindED, teachers look for instances of high-leverage instructional moves and “tag” what they see in the video. The group of teachers then discusses what they observed in their colleagues’ classroom, what questions they have, and how they might apply any learning to their own classroom teaching. Through this process, teachers learn from one another and make shifts to their own instructional approaches in their classrooms. 

Working closely with the Algebra 1 teachers in Oakland Unified, we have focused the Video Club on instructional moments where the class is engaged on 1 of the 8 embedded Math Language Routines within the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum. The Language Routines provide structured protocols to support students developing their mathematical understanding together with their use of language. These routines support students to make their thinking more visible and clear through both written and oral interactions, and by structuring opportunities for revision. 

These projects are generously supported by The Gates Foundation and we look forward to being able to share our research findings from American Institutes for Research with you. 

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