Math Badging Receives Illinois Educators’ Seal of Approval

In partnership with XQ Institute and Student Achievement Partners, EdSystems is piloting the Illinois Math Badging Initiative (IMBI) to create an Illinois high school math badging system as an alternative credentialing mechanism wherein students can certify learning gained through a broad range of sources including coursework, independent study, summer school, and work-based learning. This initiative builds on and integrates with other work EdSystems is undertaking to advance racial equity by prioritizing eliminating disparities in education and employment outcomes for young people from underserved and underrepresented populations.

To understand how educators see the problems with delivering math content to students and how a badging approach might address these issues, and to use feedback from the field to strengthen statewide planning and local implementation for the initiative, EdSystems worked with Teach Plus Illinois to engage teachers from across the state in a series of focus groups. Findings include:

  • Teachers believe that math badging offers students significant benefits and can make math content more accessible.
  • Math badging is a departure from the curricular framework currently used in Illinois.
  • Teachers want robust systems for documenting learning that are clear and transferable.

The work also resulted in a series of recommendations for implementation (read the full report). Recommendations include:  

  • Schools should offer math badging opportunities despite the challenges of implementation.
  • Schools should share implementation models so stakeholders can envision math badging.
  • Schools should provide space for deep learning discussions, both internally and externally.
  • As badging expands, practitioners should establish clear and consistent assessment practices to make student progress transferable across classroom, district, and even state contexts.

As IMBI moves into its second year, EdSystems is working to incorporate these findings and recommendations and to continue to gather insights from practitioners and other stakeholders. We are excited by the potential of this innovative work and grateful to the pilot sites who generously share their energy and guidance. If you are interested in becoming one of our pilot sites, please contact Senior Fellow Ginger M. Reynolds, PhD.

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