NYC unveils new math curriculum mandates to fight 'the fear of math'

New York City is changing the way students learn math.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams and Public Schools Chancellor David C. Banks unveiled "NYC Solves," the new math overhaul that seeks to shift proficiency rates.

Banks says students are often afraid of math and don't always know how to apply the math they learn to everyday life. 

The curriculum uses Illustrative Mathematics, a program that uses a problem-solving approach to math. 

The coursework forces students to use multiple strategies and make connections between current and past solutions, to fight what the city calls "the fear of math."

"You have so many kids say, well, I'm afraid of math. I don't like math. I'm not a math person. But the worst part is that we have a lot of teachers who say the same thing," Banks told Good Day. 

This comes as math and reading performances for teens plummeted to the lowest scores in decades in 2023.

Much of this decline came about during the pandemic. 

According to NYC Public Schools, two-thirds of Black and Latino students do not perform at grade level in math.

Banks says the new curriculum is "much more hands-on and much more practical."

"NYC Solves will transform how we are teaching math in New York City and continue our track record of improving math scores by double digits," Adams says. 

The phaseout will require high school math classrooms to adopt the new curricula. For middle schools, districts will choose from a list of pre-approved lessons. 

The program will roll out in the fall across 8 districts, 93 middle schools, and over 400 high schools.

"Over the next couple of years, we will have all the schools in the city be fully engaged in this new math curriculum," Banks explained.