About Us

The work of Math Pathways & Pitfalls is based on over two decades of research and development at WestEd. Spearheaded by Dr. Carne Barnett-Clarke, we began as the Math Case Methods Project, a professional development project aimed at developing an ethnically, linguistically and pedagogically diverse cadre of teachers with strong pedagogical content knowledge. These national teacher discussion groups clamored for materials for students that would increase their mathematical content knowledge and mathematical language use. These were the roots of Math Pathways & Pitfalls. Since Dr. Clarke’s retirement, the project is led by Alma Ramirez and Jose Franco.

Contact Information



300 Lakeside Drive Fl 25, Oakland, CA 94612

Alma Ramirez

Alma Ramirez

Senior Research Associate, Math Pathways & Pitfalls

Alma Ramirez is a Senior Research Associate for WestEd’s Math Pathways & Pitfalls project.

Ramirez co-directs Math Pathways & Pitfalls, and is one of the co-principal investigators for a project to develop online professional development modules, funded by the National Science Foundation. Ramirez also was responsible for the professional development of teachers in a national research study funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, Ramirez is one of the authors of Math Pathways & Pitfalls: Lessons and Teaching Manual for grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-8, published by WestEd.

In 2009, Ramirez and her Math Pathways & Pitfalls colleagues received the Award for Exceptional Contribution to the WestEd Community.

Ramirez was a classroom teacher for over 10 years. In addition to teaching elementary school as a bilingual teacher, as well as serving as a middle school bilingual mathematics and science teacher, she has been a mathematics methods instructor at the New College of California, a Family Math Mentor for the Lawrence Hall of Science, and a teacher-leader and case discussion facilitator for the Math Case Methods Project.

Ramirez has co-led numerous presentations at various professional meetings and conferences. She authored and reviewed several mathematics textbook series, helped develop and edit research-based materials for preschool students, and co-authored research papers and a book chapter on mathematics case discussions.

Email Alma Ramirez

Jose Franco

Jose Franco

Senior Research Associate

As Co-Director of WestEd’s Math Pathways & Pitfalls, Jose Franco helps to develop professional learning online modules and disseminate materials.

Prior to joining WestEd, Jose Franco worked for the EQUALS Program at the University of California, Berkeley, and for the past 13 years served as the EQUALS Director. A strong understanding of mathematical concepts and effective teaching techniques is at the core of EQUALS.

While at EQUALS, Franco directed various grant-funded projects, including: Bridges to Excellence: Achievement in Mathematics, funded by the California Postsecondary Education Commission and the U.S. Department of Education; English Language Development in Mathematics Institute, funded by the University of California Office of the President; Family Advocacy in Mathematics Education Project, funded by the Lucent Technologies Foundation; After School Mathematics and Science Project, funded by the California Department of Education; and Science and Math in Spanish-language Media, funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Science and Math in Spanish-language Media project is an example of an initiative that has had a national impact in its four years of existence. The initiative’s deliverables have already reached families in California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona through community-based newspapers, on radio, in parent involvement classes, at community festivals, and on the Internet. With ongoing exposure via the Internet and Spanish-language radio, Franco expects families from throughout the world to hear about, view, and download mathematics and science activities for use with their children.

Franco was also a K-6 bilingual teacher for over a decade in Colorado and California. He has conducted numerous presentations on family involvement, equity, mathematics education, and second language acquisition at the local, state, national, and international levels. In addition, he has written articles for publications such as Thoughts and Deeds: Equity in Mathematics and Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Changing the Faces of Mathematics: Perspectives on Latinos, published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and Advocating for Equity and Diversity Within the Context of Standards-Based Reform, published by the NCTM Standards Impact Research Group.

He received a BA in elementary education from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado and an MA in mathematics education from San Francisco State University.

Email Jose Franco

About WestEd

Math Pathways & Pitfalls is a project of WestEd, a research, development, and service agency whose mission is to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. Since its inception in 1966, WestEd has been guided by knowledge from research and practice, drawing on an ever-growing and constantly refined database in development.

Visit the WestEd website to learn more about WestEd’s programs of work and its impact. Keep current on the latest WestEd news, products, events, and research.