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Mathematics as a content area

Examining systemic mathematics instruction

In addition to helping learners develop problem-solving skills, mathematics has daily, real-world practical applications. Wisconsin schools have the responsibility to ensure that all students receive engaging, high-quality mathematical teaching aligned to grade-level standards. Mathematics teaching involves not only helping students develop mathematical skills but also empowering students to see themselves as being doers of mathematics. Schools use systemic and systematic structures and practices for mathematics instruction so all learners will have equitable access and opportunity.

Our approach for systems change

We support schools and districts as they work towards implementing integrated systems of academic, behavioral, and social-emotional supports. This is called Wisconsin’s Framework for Equitable, Multi-level Systems of Supports. Mathematics is one of the content areas in this integrated system.

There is a foundational connection between the system (knowledge and practices used by ALL teachers) and mathematics achievement for ALL students. “In too many schools…some teachers actually embrace the norms of isolation and autonomy. A danger in isolation is that it can lead to teachers developing inconsistencies in their practice that in turn can create inequities in student learning.” (NTCM 2014)

Where does Response to Intervention (RtI) fit into this system?

RtI is narrowly defined as a mandated, technical process for specific learning disability determinations (Wisconsin DPI). Often, general educators view RtI as something to support struggling learners in a particular academic area. The Wisconsin RtI Center’s wide vision impacts ALL learners. We support schools and districts to proactively integrate RtI processes into the integrated framework.

Defining universal, selected, and intensive practices and supports for mathematics instruction at the school level

The foundation of a school’s mathematics instruction is the universal level, where all learners receive strong, high-quality teaching. With each level of support (selected and intensive), the intensity of the instruction increases to match student need. The Wisconsin Standards for Mathematics define what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade.

Teach math skills and strategies using an instructional framework

A systemic and systematic framework creates a vision for quality mathematics instruction that is shared by everyone in a school district.

An instructional framework:

  • Provides a common language for staff
  • Details the core math content and grade-level benchmarks
  • Uses evidence-based instructional strategies, practices, and assessments
  • Is aligned to the Wisconsin State Standards at grade level and across grade levels
  • Creates coherence around curriculum and instruction
  • Assures sustainability and clarity by documenting agreed-upon decisions

Evaluating school-wide implementation through a mathematics lens

How well is your system meeting the needs of your learners? Schools can measure their systemic mathematics implementation using the School-wide Implementation Review (SIR). Schools define and set up universal, selected, and intensive practices by content area, so the SIR can be taken through the lens of any particular content area. Most frequently, schools use the SIR to get a systemic and systematic look at their reading and mathematics instruction.

What is the School-wide Implementation Review (SIR)?

The SIR is a free, online tool that

  • Measures academic system implementation around Wisconsin’s Framework for Equitable Multi-level Systems of Supports
  • Is taken annually as part of the school’s/district’s action planning process
  • Is completed by school leadership teams that include a building administrator