The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday that it will award more than $1 billion in grants as part of a broad US plan to improve math education over the next four years.
The goal is to help students succeed in school and get good-paying jobs when they graduate, given research showing the connection between strong math skills and career success.
The foundation, which has long drawn controversy over its educational work, said that to put more money into math, it will cut grants to other subjects such as reading, writing and the arts.
The increased focus on math came after the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on basic learning and widened achievement gaps by race: Math scores among black students fell more steeply than those of white students, according to Bob Hughes, director of the Gates Foundation Education and Elementary Education Grant Program.
The foundation believes that better math instruction in the early grades is key to helping students succeed in school and beyond. Students who pass algebra in 9th grade are twice as likely to graduate from high school and go on to college, Hughes said.
The problem is that for many students mathematics does not present itself as a crucial and captivating subject, he added.
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