The Mathematics Achievement Gap of 4th and 8th Grade Latino Students Under the Common Core State Standards

The purpose of this mixed method study was to (1) Examine the achievement gap in mathematics between Latino students and White/Asian students in a low-income Title I district. The researcher examined socio-economic factors that impact Latino students’ achievement, as well as school factors that impact the learning environment of a school. The focus of mathematics instruction was the new Common Core State Standards Mathematics (CCSS-M). The study participants were 4th and 7th/8th grade math teachers from a high performing and a low-performing school in a district located in Los Angeles County. State test score data from 4th and 8th graders (N=1,136) from the two selected schools were accessed for the 2015 and 2016 school years. Also survey data from 4th and 7th/8th grade math teachers (N=14), and interviews with 4th and 8th grade math teachers (N=4) were conducted. Quantitative data showed a strong relationship between parents’ education level and students’ achievement scores in math. Students from the high performing school had more highly educated parents than did students at the low-performing school. Qualitative data revealed differences in the learning environment of the two schools. Teachers at the low-performing school expressed less confidence in their efforts to implement the CCSS-M. They also indicated that their students were often underprepared for grade level instruction at both 4th and 8th grades. Despite teachers agreeing that CCSS-M has improved students’ mathematical skills, many of them stated that schools need to invest in professional development in math in order to fully implement the Common Core. Additionally, schools need to provide teachers with more support at every school site, as well as more time to extend the learning process to accommodate the goals of the CCSS-M.