• An Examination of Commonly Used Fourth-Grade Mathematics Textbooks Through a LatCrit Lens

      Friedrich, Jami Cara; Tift College of Education
      The U.S. public school system is witnessing significant growth in English language learners (ELLs), since the Hispanic population is the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the country. Simultaneously, there is a persistent achievement gap in mathematics between the Hispanic population and their White, non-Hispanic peers. Mathematics instruction in K-12 classrooms has become more language-dependent due to the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in much of the United States and an increased focus on developing students’ conceptual understanding in mathematics. To better understand the impact of current policy on Hispanic ELL students’ academic achievement in mathematics, it is critical to investigate the language usage in mathematics texts used as instructional resources in K-12 schools. The purpose of this study was to analyze the language in commonly used mathematics textbooks to understand how Hispanic Latinx culture is represented within the texts. Using a critical Latinx (LatCrit) theoretical framework, this study sought to investigate how language is employed in three widely distributed fourth-grade mathematics textbooks, specifically, how language usage may act to include or exclude the Hispanic Latinx culture. The results of this study identified the relative strengths and weaknesses of the texts in regard to supporting ELLs. The relative strengths include the use of Hispanic names, topical themes, relatable terms (specifically school-related terms), and the use of tools to support learning. The relative weaknesses include exclusion of Hispanic historical figures and Latin American locations; variety in topics; the use of tables as a form of adding a layer of complexity rather than simplifying a word problem; and the lack of photographs, graphic organizers, or multiple-choice items. Recommendations for further research include using a research design in which the participants are students currently involved with the text and studying teacher-created word problems rather than textbook word problems.