Elementary Teachers’ Beliefs of African Americans in the Mathematics Classroom

Christa Jackson


The underlying theme of the Equity Principle in the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) is all students can learn mathematics. Unfortunately, many African American students are consistently demonstrating low mathematical achievement and many educators refuse to acknowledge racial inequities faced by African Americans in the mathematics classroom. In this qualitative study, twelve elementary mathematics teachers from four school districts in the Midwest are interviewed about their beliefs about teaching African American students and teaching mathematics to African American students. The teachers in this study believe African American students can and do succeed in mathematics, which is contrary to the belief held by some educators that African American students cannot do outstanding work. The findings in this study reveal that mathematics teachers need productive beliefs specifically related to African American students, how African American students learn, and effective teaching practices for African American students in order to teach mathematics through an equitable lens.

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