September 26, 2022

The impact of an antiracist math program on learning outcomes for economically challenged students of color


California’s economically disadvantaged students of color deserve to have a high-quality mathematics education. Historically, over 80% of these students leave high school below standard in math which denies them access to the economic and social benefits of being able to do high powered math and denies California the workforce it needs. This action research study is designed to determine if a set of antiracist interventions will help high school students overcome these math learning outcome deficits. This study focused on two research questions: What is the effect of participation in an antiracist mathematics program, consisting of a specific set of interventions, on student perceptions of confidence and competence in mathematics? What effect does participation in an anti-racist mathematics curriculum have on student engagement as measured by student survey data?

The participants of this study were predominately (over 90%) economically disadvantaged students of color at an urban, public high school in northern California. One group of students received the antiracist interventions (Target Group) for a semester and the other group (Control Group) did not. Target Group students were given perception surveys before and after the first semester of school year. They and the Control Group were then asked an additional set of questions designed to measure their perception of growth in their mathematical confidence, competence and engagement over the semester. Target Group students were also asked a follow  up set of questions in order to clarify their intentions.

This action research revealed that the antiracist interventions did indeed help students feel more competent, confident and engaged in their mathematics classroom.