**10 Myths That Hold Bright Math Students Back**

These widely-held beliefs lead daily to decisions that prevent bright students from reaching

their full mathematical potential. Each holds a grain of truth but hides a deeper truth.

** Myth 1: Math is mainly about performing procedures accurately and quickly.**

*A grain of truth: *Procedural fluency is one of many components of math proficiency*.**The deeper truth: *Math is mainly about understanding, creating, and reasoning about patterns and relationships.

** ****Myth 2: Acceleration is a highly effective means of meeting the needs of bright math students.**

*A grain of truth: *Acceleration meets some needs of some bright math students.*The deeper truth: *Acceleration as typically practiced *inhibits* many students’ learning and growth in math.

** ****Myth 3: Bright math students’ needs can be met entirely within mixed-ability classrooms.**

*A grain of truth: *All students can benefit when bright students take part in mixed-ability math classrooms.*The deeper truth:* Bright math students also need frequent, focused opportunities to work and talk with others who are thinking at similar levels.

** ****Myth 4: Identifying and meeting the needs of bright math students is elitist and harmful.**

*A grain of truth: *Elitism exists in gifted education and has negative consequences.*The deeper truth: *Identifying and meeting the needs of bright math students can support *all* students’ learning.

**Myth 5: Skills-based math tests are sufficient to assess bright students’ abilities and learning.**

*A grain of truth: *Skills-based math tests provide some insight into bright students’ abilities and learning.*The deeper truth: *Skills-based math tests alone are insufficient and are often misinterpreted.

** Myth 6: Mathematical talent involves special abilities that ordinary people lack.**

*A grain of truth: *People have different capacities for understanding and doing math.*The deeper truth: *Math ability is changeable, and most people, bright ones included, greatly underestimate their mathematical potential.

**Myth 7: It is neither important nor realistic for non-specialist teachers to understand math deeply.**

*A grain of truth: *Non-specialist teachers do not usually need significant knowledge of secondary mathematics.*The deeper truth: *All math teachers need and can gain deep knowledge around the content that they teach.

**Myth 8: Math tasks should not be so difficult that they frustrate students.**

*A grain of truth: *Students should work only on math tasks that they can make sense of.*The deeper truth: *Bright math students can learn to manage and thrive on reasonable levels of frustration by working on tasks that are both *more *and *meaningfully *challenging.

** Myth 9: Bright students can learn math on their own.**

*A grain of truth: *Many bright students are good at learning certain aspects of math independently.*The deeper truth: *Nearly all math students need significant guidance in order to fully develop their potential.

** ****Myth 10: Bright math students need special opportunities and experiences.**

*A grain of truth: *Bright math students, like others, benefit from having a range of choices and opportunities.*The deeper truth: *Experiences that target a student’s individual needs should not be treated as unusual or special.

**Questions to consider**

What does the myth look and sound like?

What are the consequences?

How can I respond?