My work as a mathematics educator is principally concerned with understanding how we can improve mathematics teaching and learning – especially in the middle-grades – to support youth from historically underserved communities to participate substantially in and identify with academically rigorous mathematics. I attend to both what is necessary on the part of classroom teaching and how teachers can be supported to develop such forms of practice.


One line of inquiry concerns specifying concrete forms of teaching practice that advance equity.  I have most recently carried out this line of work in the context of the Middle School Mathematics and the Institutional Setting of Teaching (MIST) project, in which colleagues and I partnered with districts pursuing ambitious reform in middle-grades mathematics.  An example is research I led to detail how complex tasks can be introduced in middle-grades classrooms to provide access to a broader range of students without lowering the cognitive demand of the task (Jackson, Garrison, Wilson, Gibbons, & Shahan, 2013).  In addition to specifying classroom practice, colleagues and I have worked to identify equity-specific aspects of teachers’ perspectives that appear to matter for the forms of practice they enact in classrooms.  As an example we found that teachers’ views of their students’ mathematical capabilities (Jackson, Gibbons, & Sharpe, 2017) appear to impact the extent to which teachers support a broad range of students to engage in conceptually-oriented discourse, especially in classrooms serving majority students of color (Wilhelm, Munter, & Jackson, 2017). A focus on teachers’ views of students builds on an earlier line of inquiry, in which I investigated relations between processes of social identification and opportunities to learn mathematics across school and home (see, e.g., Jackson, 2009; 2011).

A second, related line of inquiry concerns how to design and implement instructional improvement strategies organized around a rigorous and equitable vision of instruction at the scale of large, urban districts.  Within the MIST project, we generated an empirically-grounded theory of action for instructional improvement at the scale of large, urban districts in the US (see, e.g., Cobb & Jackson, 2011).  The resulting theory of action – which spans a coherent instructional system organized around a vision of rigorous and equitable teaching, including professional learning supports for teachers; and the forms of practice school and district leaders need to develop –  provides guidance to instructional leaders regarding how to design a coherent system.

However, over the course of our collaboration with district leaders in the MIST project, we found that there were few tools that practitioners could use to engage in frequent, systematic, disciplined inquiry regarding the implementation of strategies that targeted the core of mathematics teaching and learning.  In response, at present, colleagues and I are partnering with teachers and instructional leaders (e.g., coaches, district leaders) to develop a system of practical measures (e.g., Bryk, Gomez, Grunow, & LeMahieu, 2015), routines for using the measures, and representations of the measures to support the implementation of instructional improvement strategies that target both rigorous and equitable goals for students’ learning.  For more information about this project, including to access the tools, please click here.

I teach courses in the undergraduate, professional learning, and graduate divisions:
  • Mathematics for Elementary Teachers (Undergraduate; EDUC 170)
  • Teaching and Learning in Numeracy (Elementary Teacher Education Program; EDTEP 521 & 522)
  • Qualitative Methods of Educational Research (Graduate; EDPSY 586 & 587)
  • Pedagogies of Professional Education (Graduate; EDC&I 527)
Prior to UW
Prior to joining the University of Washington College of Education, I was an assistant professor of mathematics education at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and prior to that, a post-doctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.  I worked as a mathematics specialist serving both youth and their families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and as a secondary mathematics teacher, grades 8-12, in Vanuatu, South Pacific.

PhD in Education, Culture, and Society; University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

BA in Mathematics, Secondary Concentration in Education; Bates College

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Jackson, K., Gibbons, L., & Sharpe, C.  (2017).  Teachers’ views of students’ mathematical capabilities: Challenges and possibilities for ambitious reform. Teachers College Record, 119(7), p. - .

Wilhelm, A.G., Munter, C., & Jackson, K. (2017).  Examining relations between teachers’ diagnoses of sources of students’ difficulty in mathematics and students’ opportunities to learn. Elementary School Journal, 117(3), 345-370.

Jackson, K., Cobb, P., Wilson, J., Webster, M., Dunlap, C., & Appelgate, M. (2015). Investigating the development of mathematics leaders' capacity to support teachers' learning on a large scale. ZDM Mathematics Education, 47(1), 93-104.

Jackson, K., Garrison, A., Wilson, J., Gibbons, L., & Shahan, E. (2013). Exploring relationships between setting up complex tasks and opportunities to learn in concluding whole-class discussions in middle-grades mathematics instruction. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(4), 646-682.

  • Click here to listen to a podcast about this research.

Jackson, K., Shahan, E., Gibbons, L., & Cobb, P. (2012). Launching complex tasks. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 18(1), 24-29.

Jackson, K., & Wilson, J. (2012). Supporting African American students’ learning of mathematics: A problem of practice. Urban Education, 47(2), 354-398.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2012). Analyzing educational policies: A learning design perspective. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(4), 487-521.

Wortham, S., & Jackson, K. (2012).  Relational education: Applying Gergen’s work to educational research and practice. Psychological Studies, 57(2), 164-171.

Jackson, K. (2011). Approaching participation in school-based mathematics as a cross-setting phenomenon. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(1), 111-150.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2011). Assessing the quality of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Educational Researcher, 40(4), 183-185.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2011). Towards an empirically grounded theory of action for improving the quality of mathematics teaching at scale. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 13(1), 6-33.

Cobb, P. & Jackson, K. (2008).  The consequences of experimentalism in formulating recommendations for policy and practice in mathematics education.  Educational Researcher, 37(9), 573-581.

Remillard, J.T. & Jackson, K.  (2006). Old math, new math:  Parents’ experiences with Standards-based reform. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 8(3), 231-259.

Book Chapters

Henrick, E., Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2015). Educational design research to support system-wide instructional improvement. In A. Bikner-Ahsbahs, C. Knipping & N. C. Presmeg (Eds.), Approaches to qualitative research in mathematics education: Examples of methodology and methods (pp. 497-530). Dordrecht: Springer.

Russell, J., Jackson, K., Krumm, A., & Frank, K. (2013). Theories and research methodologies for design-based implementation research:  Examples from four cases. In B. J. Fishman, W. R. Penuel, A.-R. Allen & B. H. Cheng (Eds.), Design based implementation research:  Theories, methods, and exemplars.  National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook (Vol. 112, Issue 2, pp. 157-191). New York: Teachers College.

Cobb, P., Jackson, K., Smith, T., Sorum, M., & Henrick, E. (2013). Design research with educational systems: Investigating and supporting improvements in the quality of mathematics teaching and learning at scale. In B. J. Fishman, W. R. Penuel, A.-R. Allen & B. H. Cheng (Eds.), Design based implementation research:  Theories, methods, and exemplars.  National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook (Vol. 112, Issue 2, pp. 320-349). New York: Teachers College.

Jackson, K., & Cobb, P. (2013). Coordinating professional development across contexts and role groups. In M. Evans (Ed.), Teacher education and pedagogy: Theory, policy and practice (pp. 80-99). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Jackson, K. (2009). The social construction of youth and mathematics: The case of a fifth grade classroom. In D.B. Martin (Ed.), Mathematics teaching, learning, and liberation in the lives of Black children (pp. 175-199). New York: Routledge.

Wortham, S. & Jackson, K. (2008).  Educational constructionisms. In J. A. Holstein & J. F. Gubrium (Eds.), Handbook of constructionist research (pp. 107-127). New York: The Guilford Press.