This adjunct math professor at Cheyney University is helping Black students feel more comfortable learning math. Akil Parker launched All This Math, a tutoring service, after students asked for help outside the classroom.

“I know how it feels to sit in the classroom and not understand what’s going on, and you know, not understand what the teacher is talking about,” he told CBS News.

Parker also started a YouTube channel where students can seek free lessons. He also published the book, How To Use All This Math, to teach parents how to learn and apply math in everyday life.

“I want to make it more normalized, you know, for people in the Black community to really embrace math and run toward it. I think that, you know, we kind of shy away from math,” Parker said. “A lot of us have had negative classroom experiences in math classes.”

He is right. Just 13% of Black or African American students in grades three through eight were considered proficient or above in math, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s 2023 standardized test results. In comparison, that is 19% of Hispanic students, 48% of white students and 67% of Asian students.

Experts say some reasons may explain this gap, which has been an issue for decades.

“The resources that are available in schools, the quality of teaching and learning, issues around poverty,” James Earl Davis, an urban education professor at Temple University, told CBS News. “Those gaps that you see, in some cases, they can be explained by income.”

Parker believes that learning math can be an effective tool that teaches students how to solve problems outside of the classroom.

“Mathematics is, in my opinion, the single greatest subject to teach people how to solve problems,” Parker said.