“With Math I Can” FAQ


Tell me again about the goal of the “With Math I Can” initiative.

“With Math I Can” is a national initiative to change people’s mindsets about math. SCUSD is partnering with Amazon Education to bring the campaign to Sacramento.

“With Math I Can” challenges teachers and their students to take the pledge to replace the notion of “I’m not good at math” with “I am working to get better at math” by embracing a growth mindset.

Why is it important to change people’s attitudes about math?

Math is a basic skill, necessary to survive and thrive. Not only are math skills critical to success in the STEM fields, they are necessary for all careers, from selling real estate or running a bakery to being a NASCAR driver or a  building contractor.

In addition, we use math in every facet of our everyday lives, such as grocery shopping, paying bills, or deciding whether to take an Uber, cab or bus.  

Today’s students must develop a positive attitude about math to reach their full potential, and have access to career and economic opportunities. Many growing professions today have a strong foundation of math needed.

Developing a growth mindset attitude is building a muscle that positively effects all aspects of life—it’s building confidence in our students.

Why are you supporting this initiative?

We join with Amazon Education and the other education organizations supporting “With Math I Can” because we share the belief that, in order to ensure that all students reach their full potential and have access to career and economic opportunities, we must change their mindsets about math. We must support them as they develop “math esteem.”

Are you being paid by Amazon to participate?


Are attitudes about math really that negative?

Yes, more than 50 percent of Americans ages 18-24 report that there have been many times that they’ve found themselves uttering the phrase, “I can’t do math,” [according to a 2010 survey by Change the Equation]. Yet, the same study reports that nearly all Americans (93 percent) agree that developing good math skills is essential to success in life.

How are U.S. students doing in math?

Studies show that other countries are outpacing the U.S. in math achievement. The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress – the Nation’s Report Card – showed that U.S. 4th and 8th grade students are performing worse in math than they were two years ago.

In addition, the report that only 44% of low-income students achieved a basic understanding of math while 71% of average-income students achieved the same level.

Is there a gender gap in math achievement in the U.S.?

Yes. In elementary grades, U.S. girls see higher levels of math achievement than boys, but that changes as they get into high school. According to the College Board, this is a trend that dates back several decades with high school boys outperforming girls on the SAT math test – with as much as a 32-point advantage.  

This could be the result of low math esteem. Even more troubling is that, according to the National Science Foundation, while women may study math in college, they remain underrepresented in careers requiring strong math skills, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences.

What is a “growth mindset?”

Growth mindset was pioneered by Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. There she and her colleagues were the first to identify a link between growth mindset and achievement. They found that students who believed their ability and intelligence could grow and change, otherwise known as growth mindset, outperformed those who thought their ability and intelligence was fixed.

How does a growth mindset change the way children learn math?

If you ask most students what they think their role is in math classrooms, they will tell you it is to get questions right and when they inevitably struggle, most decide they are not a “math person.” When students are in math classrooms where they are encouraged to focus on the process of learning math – rather than the outcomes – their attitude about math changes. They develop a growth mindset and the negative phrase, “I can’t do math,” is no longer part of their vernacular.

Who can sign the pledge?

Anyone who has the ability to impact a student’s mindset. We are encouraging entire districts, schools, classes, and families to join us as we strive to transform mindsets about math.

It is particularly important to us that parents and care givers support this initiative as they play such an important role in inspiring and encouraging their children.

Can students sign the pledge?

We are asking teachers and parents to take the pledge with their students.

What is someone committing to when they sign the pledge?

They commit to helping students add growth mindset as a tool for life.

They commit to helping students have an increased focus on the process of learning rather than the outcome.

They commit to building math esteem, by not saying, “I’m not good at math” in order to encourage students to think more positively about their own abilities.

What is “math esteem?”

Self-esteem is confidence in one’s own worth or abilities and by extension, “math esteem” is confidence in one’s own ability to do math and be a critical thinker and problem solver.

How long will this initiative take place?

As long as it takes.

How many people do you want to have sign the pledge?

We would love it if every school, district, class, and family signed the pledge.