Insights Blog

Welcome to the Zearn Insights Blog

At a Glance

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Overview

We’re so excited to be launching Zearn’s newest blog, focused on insights that can help make every kid a math kid.

We know that the road to mathematical mastery for all students isn’t an easy one and that inequities in our education system make it less likely that students from low-income backgrounds and students of color will reach that goal. So many of us in different roles have the opportunity to shape kids’ educational experiences — that’s why we’re intent on bringing all of you into the conversation. From education researchers to policymakers, to teachers, administrators and parents, and those of us who are curriculum creators and digital platform builders — each of us can make decisions that get more students excited about math and on the path to numeracy.

And that path is essential to our children’s growth. Not just because math offers tools for decoding the beauty and the inner workings of the world around us. But also because math isn’t optional anymore. To have a secure future, to have access to the jobs that offer comfort and stability — there may have once been a path without math, but it’s pretty well gone now. All our kids need skill and comfort with math. And we have to get them there.

But in helping them on that journey, what decisions are the right ones? A few of the right steps are clear, but others are trickier. No one has all the right answers, yet, but we believe that if we take a close look at student learning data and all put our heads together, we can chart a smart path forward. 

At Zearn, we are sitting on a mountain of data — over 9 billion student-completed problems and counting, to be exact. Now, while some might see this collection of discarded exercises as a trash heap, we believe buried within it are new insights about learning, just waiting to be discovered. There’s tremendous value in knowing exactly where, when, and how students struggle in math and what shifts in practice lead to “Aha!” moments. 

That’s why we share our data and partner with experts from diverse fields —- by joining together for an “archaeological dig,” we can sift through artefacts left behind, determine their significance, and piece together answers to the most important questions about how kids come to understand the “big ideas” in math so they can apply them in real life. We believe that progress in teaching and learning will come, not from making a single, massive change overnight, but through many small, yet critical, evidence-based tweaks along the way.

We believe that progress in teaching and learning will come through many small, yet critical, evidence-based tweaks along the way.
<cms-quote-source>Shalinee Sharma<cms-quote-source>

So far we’ve teamed up with researchers Raj Chetty and John Friedman (Opportunity Insights) and Emily Oster (COVID-19 School Data Hub) to track the impact of the pandemic on students’ progress in math and with TNTP to share how and why teachers can accelerate students’ learning despite periods of significant interrupted or unfinished learning. With each of these projects, we’ve been focused not just on how to move all kids forward, but particularly how we can do so in a way that closes opportunity gaps in the process.

That’s what we want this blog to be about — an ongoing conversation, grounded in the data, about what works for kids. Zearn has something incredibly valuable — evidence in real time of how students learn. It’s too valuable to keep to ourselves, and too important to release findings in a few reports a year. Together, we can make breakthroughs in instruction that will make every kid a math kid.

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Shalinee Sharma
Written by Shalinee Sharma

Shalinee Sharma is the CEO and co-founder of Zearn Math.