Over the past year, EdSystems has had the immense pleasure of working with a select group of high schools piloting math badging. The Illinois Math Badging Initiative (IMBI) is a partnership with XQ Institute designed to improve math outcomes and advance racial equity by validating learning that happens outside a traditional classroom, offering innovative methods for assessing and recognizing math knowledge, and customizing math to align with student interests and the math necessary for postsecondary achievement. We know math is a hurdle to college and career success that many students, particularly students from underserved communities, never overcome. These pilot sites are at the forefront of innovating to change that.
The badges themselves are well-designed by a network of experts convened by XQ. They contain standards-aligned math content and practice expectations, cutting-edge learning principles, and mastery-based assessment options. But the badges are really a tool—one to solve a problem, rework a system, change a structure, transform teaching, and focus on learning. On April 19, 2023, the pilot sites shared their plans for using badges in a webinar showcase. Their use cases demonstrate the flexibility of the badges, and also the incredibly thoughtful ways the pilot sites are employing them:
- Charleston High School will use badges to validate the learning that happens in its Geometry in Construction course to ensure students master rigorous math content while engaged in construction applications.
- Phoenix STEM Military Academy (PSMA) is using badges to integrate math instruction into STEM learning and to give students more opportunity to reach higher-level math classes.
- Ridgewood High School is providing students with opportunities to earn badges that are applicable and relevant to their career pathway, and is using badges for innovative transitional instruction models that give students choice of math pathways based on career interest.
- Round Lake High School is using badges to help reduce barriers that prerequisites can create by providing an alternate way for students to move between math classes.
- The Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) is offering badges to validate the learning that happens through its PROMISE Pipeline enrichment.
The pilots are pure joy to work with. They are innovative problem solvers who are dedicated to finding ways to do what’s right for students, including ensuring students have a voice in determining what that is. They are dedicated to working toward equity in math, and they are generous in sharing their ideas and insights, their successes and challenges, and even their work products. It is a community I am grateful to be a part of and it gives me hope that education really can change.