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Racial gaps in math have grown. A school tried closing theirs by teaching all kids the same classes
Racial achievement gaps in math have worsened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions to learning
Hope Reed was seeing stark disparities a decade ago at her high school in the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina.
Nearly half the school's students were white, but the freshman remedial math classes were made up of almost all students of color. Reed, then chair of the math department at Blythewood High School, intervened with an experiment.
She taught a ninth-grade remedial class and used the regular Algebra 1 curriculum with nearly 50 students. They were honors students, and they were going to do honors work, she recalled telling them.
At the end of the year, about 90% of the students passed. The experiment convinced Reed that detracking — or getting rid of classes that separate students by achievement level — could be a key to narrowing gaps in math performance. The school then tried going a step further, enrolling all ninth-graders in the same level of math class.