Mathematical Support for English Learners


Students who are multilingual learners—also called English learners (ELs) in U.S. schools—can thrive in mathematics class. Yet recent National Assessment of Educational Progress data suggest that too few of these students are reaching their full potential in mathematics. What is the key to these students’ success? Teachers must have effective resources, support, and strategies to tailor instruction to fit emergent multilingual students’ strengths and needs.

Across the United States, EDC’s professional development programs and resources help teachers enhance instruction for students who are multilingual learners. Working in partnership with educators and school leaders, we design, implement, and study evidence-based programs and resources that give teachers the skills and tools they need to ensure that multilingual students excel.

Key Activities

EDC’s work to facilitate mathematics success for multilingual students includes the following activities:


  • Findings from this work have been published in numerous journals, including a research report in ZDM –  Mathematics Education, multiple articles in Educational Leadership (including one about professional development and one about making mathematical thinking visible, and and article in Mathematics in the Middle School; shared in blog posts; and spotlighted in numerous videos, including one that was spotlighted in the 2021 National Science Foundation STEM For All Video Showcase.
  • Over 500 middle grades mathematics teachers, mathematics coaches, and English learner specialists across the United States have participated in our mathematics professional development.
  • A nationwide study demonstrated that EDC’s Fostering Geometric Thinking Toolkit professional development positively impacted 150 teachers’ knowledge and instruction.
  • A study involving over 100 teachers demonstrated positive impacts of our VAM professional development on participating mathematics teachers.
  • A study involving students in 23 grade 6 classrooms demonstrated positive impacts of our Analyzing Diagrams: Supports for English Learners fraction division lessons on participating students’ problem-solving. This study generated findings about how instructional strategies support students who are multilingual learners.

Learn More

Visual Access to Mathematics
National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, New York City Department of Education

Horizon Research, Inc.; University of North Carolina-Charlotte