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Math Musings: An Adult Numeracy Blog

Will This Be on the Test? #1
by Sarah Lonberg-Lew Welcome to the first installment of our new monthly series, “Will This Be on the Test?” Each month, we’ll feature a new question similar to something adult learners might see on a high school equivalency test and a discussion of how one might go about tackling the problem conceptually. There are lots … Continue reading Will This Be on the Test? #1


Extending Mathematical Power (EMPower) was created to integrate the best of K-12 mathematics education reform into the field of education for adults and out-of-school youth. EMPower was designed especially for those students who return for a second chance at education.



Over the course of four years (2000-2004), a collaboration of teachers and researchers with expertise in adult numeracy education and K-12 mathematics reform developed and piloted contextualized curriculum units. Teachers from Illinois, NY, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania

The following documents and people influenced the EMPower series.

Mary Jane Schmitt, promoted numeracy, an ever-expanding, blah blah blah. She researched mathematics in the wild.

Donna Curry has a strong workplace background. She intuitively connects number, data, algebra, and measurement and helps others see connections as well.

Tricia Donovan researched epistemological change resulting from curriculum influences. She built in opportunities for students and teachers to reflect.

 Martha Merson gathered teachers’ and students’ reactions, their work and words feature prominently in the books.

The Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000), as well as frameworks that are adult-focused, such as the Equipped for the Future Content Standards (Stein, 2000)

the Massachusetts ABE Curriculum Frameworks for Mathematics and Numeracy (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2005), and

the Adult Numeracy Network's Framework for Adult Numeracy Standards (Curry, Schmitt, & Waldron, 1995). The curriculum fosters a pedagogy of learning for understanding; it embeds teacher support and is transformative, yet realistic, for multilevel classrooms.


They moved away from having students memorize formulas and follow procedures. Instead students:

  • engage in activities that relate to their lives.
  • investigate concepts,
  • work collaboratively, share ideas orally and in writing, and
  • discover multiple ways to solve problems.
  • apply mathematics to everyday situations
  • see relationships between situations, graphs, tables, and equations