Searching for equity in math education : an examination into issues of course access and classroom experiences for Black and Hispanic youth

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2017-06-19

Authors

Morton, Karisma Lucia

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Abstract

Achieving equity in math education requires investigations into issues of access as well as experiences of students in their math classrooms. In this dissertation, I present three analytic chapters that explore equitable access by race/ethnicity to advanced math courses as well as equitable experiences within math classrooms. Specifically, in the first analytic chapter I explore the extent to which Black and Hispanic students in a large and diverse school district are underrepresented in 8th grade algebra relative to their White peers (and each other) within the context of the racial/ethnic composition of their schools. In the second analytic chapter, I examine whether those students who successfully complete algebra in the 8th grade go on to take geometry in the 9th grade at the same rate as their White peers. In these two chapters I find that equitable access to 8th grade algebra depends largely on the racial/ethnic composition of the school students attend, such that Black and Hispanic students are disadvantaged in some contexts but not in others. However, I also find that once students enter the pipeline of advanced math course-taking in the 8th grade, access to subsequent advanced math is equitable. In the final analytic chapter, I shift my focus to what happens in math classrooms by utilizing national data to examine the extent to which students perceive their 9th grade math teachers as being equitable and how these perceptions affect student outcomes. My findings indicate that the impact of having an equitable teacher on math test scores varies by race/ethnicity, such that Black students realize positive effects of having an equitable teacher regardless of their math course level, while their Hispanic and White peers realize differing effects depending on course level.

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