PACE Event

The Mathematics of Opportunity

Charting a Path to Equity


The Mathematics of Opportunity


In today’s data-rich, technology-enhanced world, math learning opportunities are central to the path to higher education and 21st-century careers. Math classes must serve as stepping stones rather than stopping points on students’ journeys. Ensuring that happens means policies, practices, and perceptions must change to lower the systemic barriers that block some students’ paths forward, especially by race and gender.

To learn more about and support new strategies that enhance deeper learning and equitable outcomes, Just Equations' is hosting its fourth annual Mathematics of Opportunity conference, cosponsored this year by PACE. The free, virtual event will feature Harvey Mudd College professor and PBS NOVA Wonders co-host Dr. Talithia Williams, speaking on "Power in Numbers: Unveiling Hidden Figures," about looking beyond traditional talent pools to recruit a new generation of STEM leaders.

To prepare all students for higher education and 21st-century careers, math must serve as a stepping stone, not a stopping point, on a student’s journey.

Through a series of plenary sessions and interactive discussions, we’ll continue conversations about how education systems, teachers, policymakers, and advocates can advance math education that enhances deeper learning and equitable outcomes.

The conference will explore the following topics:

  • Math Education and the Whole Student

  • Centering Equity in Data Science Education

  • Calculus as a Gateway to STEM for Diverse Learners

  • Challenges and Opportunities in Implementing College Math Corequisites

  • The Role of College admissions in Shaping Math Education

  • Jennifer Aguilar, Principal, Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering
  • Julia Aguirre, Professor and Director of Teacher Credentials Programs, University of Washington-Tacoma
  • Nathan N. Alexander, Assistant Professor, Morehouse College
  • Veronica Anderson, President, PenUltimate Group
  • Elisha Smith Arrillaga, Managing Director, The Charles A. Dana Center, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Rachel Bates, Associate Vice Chancellor, Educational Partnerships, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
  • Brian Bridges, Secretary of Higher Education, State of New Jersey
  • Kyndall Brown, Executive Director, California Mathematics Project
  • Dia Bryant, Executive Director, The Education Trust–New York
  • Pamela Burdman, Executive Director, Just Equations
  • Kathryn Chaval, Dean, University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Education
  • Monica Casillas, Associate Director of Professional Development, Introduction to Data Science, UCLA Center X
  • Naomi Castro, Senior Director, Career Ladders Project
  • Lynn Cevallos, Founder and CEO, College Bridge
  • Ephraim Collins, Undergraduate Student, University of New Mexico
  • Victoria Dominguez, Dean of Mathematics and Business, Citrus College
  • Christopher Edley, Jr., Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Education and The Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley; Faculty Director, PACE
  • Jess Ellis Hagman, Associate Professor, Colorado State University
  • David Hawkins, Chief Education and Policy Officer, National Association for College Admission Counseling
  • Erica Heinzman, Lecturer and Supervisor, Department of Education Studies, University of California, San Diego
  • Eric Hsu, Chair and Professor of Mathematics, San Francisco State University, Center for Science and Mathematics
  • Michal Kurlaender, Professor of Education Policy and Chair, School of Education, University of California, Davis; Faculty Director, PACE
  • Rachel Levy, Executive Director and Mathematics Professor, North Carolina State University, Data Science Academy
  • Luis Antonio Leyva, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education, Vanderbilt University-Peabody College
  • Monica Lin, Director, AG and Transfer Policy/Analysis, University of California
  • Vilma Mesa, Professor of Education and Mathematics, University of Michigan
  • Woomy Michel, Undergraduate Student, Clark Atlanta University
  • José Muñoz, Director, Coalition of Community Schools, Institute for Educational Leadership
  • William J. Murphy, Undergraduate Student, Morehouse College
  • Tressa Overstreet, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness, Fresno Unified School District
  • Brandon Protas, Strategy Director, Complete College America
  • Rogéair Purnell, President and CEO, RDP Consulting
  • Blaire Moody Rideout, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Michigan, Ross School of Business
  • Roberto Rubalcaba, Associate Math Professor, San Diego City College
  • Sonja B. Santelises, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Ji Y. Son, Professor of Psychology and Author, California State University, Los Angeles;
  • German Vargas, AVP for Academic Student Engagement, College of Coastal Georgia
  • José Luis Vilson, Executive Director and Co-Founder, EduColor
  • Laurencia Walker, Director of Student Affairs, College Readiness, Hartnell College
  • Charity Watson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Florida International University
  • Jamelle Watson-Daniels, Director of Research, Data for Black Lives
  • Talitha Washington, Director, Data Science Initiative and Professor, Atlanta University Center and Clark Atlanta University
  • Talithia Williams, Statistician and Professor, Harvey Mudd College

1:00 PM | Welcome to The Mathematics of Opportunity 2022 & Power in Numbers: Unveiling Hidden Figures

Just Equations' Executive Director, Pamela Burdman, will introduce the fourth annual Mathematics of Opportunity conference, followed by Dr. Talithia Williams who will give the keynote address, "Power in Numbers: Unveiling Hidden Figures". The movie Hidden Figures brought visibility to the lives of African American women who served as NASA “human computers” in the 1960s, women who dreamed the impossible in a field where their presence was lacking. Meeting the demands of a 21st-century STEM workforce requires that we look beyond traditional talent pools to recruit and train individuals typically underrepresented in math. During this talk, Dr. Williams will discuss her personal journey as a woman of color in mathematics and share ways in which we can excite public interest in the mathematical sciences, building upon the rich legacy of diverse mathematical scientists who have come before us.

2:00 PM | Student Voices: Math-ing while Black

Listening to students is at the heart of educational transformation. Much research has been devoted to the trajectories of Black students in mathematics, to shed light on the causes of and solutions to racial inequities in math education. This session will focus on listening to students, two undergraduates will speak with a veteran math educator and activist about what has facilitated their math journeys from grade school through college STEM courses.

3:00 PM | Math Education Through a Restorative Lens

Research increasingly shows that improving education outcomes for marginalized students requires approaches that nurture the “whole child.” The premise of this session is that those findings extend to mathematics. Though math is traditionally viewed as value-free, students’ personal and cultural lenses influence their development of math identities. How can school districts and college systems ensure student-centered, inquiry-driven, restorative approaches in math classrooms, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? And how can math learning be central to efforts to advance educational equity? This deep-dive session will explore these questions and more with leading thinkers in math education and education equity.

12:00 PM | College Math Corequisites: Challenges and Opportunities

Colleges and universities around the country are implementing corequisites, strategies that allow students who traditionally would have been assigned to remedial math courses to instead take college-level courses with concurrent or just-in-time support. Research suggests that corequisite support leads to greater success in math sequences for historically excluded and underserved students. In this deep-dive session, state and institutional leaders from around the country reflect on the implementation strategies that have led to that success, sharing concrete lessons from their specific contexts. They will also highlight ways of tackling the ongoing challenges of implementing corequisites, including building buy-in and support among faculty, promoting student awareness of the benefits of corequisites, and ensuring equitable access and success across a range of math pathways aligned with student aspirations.

12:00 PM | The Calculus of College Admissions

Today’s data-rich environment has changed the way math is used in many fields, and the role of math in college admissions policies is beginning to change as well. As institutions expand their math requirements to include pathways such as Statistics, Data Science, and Mathematics Modeling, some admissions offices are also broadening the definition of advanced mathematics. Many other selective institutions continue to rely heavily on decades-old math expectations, treating calculus as a gold standard. Based on new research aimed at shedding light on the evolving role of math in admissions, this session will consider the challenges as well as opportunities in developing admissions policies that foster, rather than hinder, development of rigorous and relevant high school mathematics pathways that prepare students for postsecondary success.

2:30 PM | Exploring New K12 Math Pathways

Many have advocated for adoption of multiple high school mathematics pathways beyond the traditional path to calculus to better align with students’ aspirations and address systemic barriers in math education. As new K12 math pathways grow in popularity, this session explores the challenges and implications of these emerging pathways from a research and practice perspective. Learn about recent research on student outcomes and experiences in K-12 math pathways and explore the implications for equity and future research.

2:30 PM | Rewriting Destiny: Removing Barriers on the Calculus Pathway to STEM

As a weed-out course, college Calculus bears considerable responsibility for low persistence rates in STEM, especially among historically excluded students. Traditional modes of instruction and meritocratic narratives contribute to continuing racial and gender stratification in STEM. However, research points to numerous ways that math departments can transform calculus instruction to cultivate a more diverse generation of math and science professionals. Hear from researchers and practitioners from around the country as they share what they have learned about the factors that interfere with students’ progress in calculus sequences. They will also surface opportunities for colleges to shift from measuring students’ readiness to designing better calculus experiences, so that prior math preparation doesn’t dictate students’ destinies.

12:00 PM | Centering Equity in Data Science Education

As data science education rapidly expands in K12 and higher education, equity must be a fundamental consideration in access, instruction, design, and student outcomes. This session will explore key challenges and opportunities to advance equity in data science education from multiple perspectives. How are program leaders in data science education at the K12 and secondary levels keeping equity at the forefront? How can the experiences of students in data science education inform our understanding of equity?

12:00 PM | Multiplier Effect: Dual Enrollment x Math

Taking college courses in high school, known as dual enrollment, has been shown to increase high school and college completion. Because students participating in dual enrollment tend to graduate earlier and at lower cost, such programs are on the rise in California and other states. Some studies show these strategies can be particularly effective for students who historically have been tracked into remedial math courses. How do we design for equity in math dual enrollment? How do we ensure we are not tracking students, given limited offerings? Join K12, community college and research practitioners in exploring the complex issues surrounding dual enrollment in math and sharing promising practices and aspirations as college and high school partnerships expand their math offerings.

2:30 PM | Math Equity and the Power of Universities

Universities are uniquely positioned to influence math opportunity in numerous ways: through scholarship, through admissions policies, and through preparation of the educators who will teach the math students of the future. In this deep-dive session, math education leaders from five universities will consider ways that academia may have contributed to inequitable math outcomes in the past as well as how new university research, policies, and educational programs can help benefit students historically excluded from opportunities in mathematics and STEM.

We look forward to seeing you at Just Equations’ fourth annual conference—The Mathematics of Opportunity: Charting a Path to Equity, cosponsored by PACE.