Secretary of Education designates UCSMP program as PromisingBy William Harms
Both the University of Chicago School Mathematics Projects elementary (K-6) and secondary (7-12) curricula have been designated as Promising by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
The programs received the designation this fall when, for the first time, the Department of Education established a Mathematics and Science Education Expert Panel to review 61 programs. The panel chose 10 curricula for recognition, two of which were developed by UCSMP.
The UCSMP began in 1983 with the goal of upgrading the mathematics experiences of students in kindergarten through grade 12 to world-class standards. To reach that end, UCSMP based its curricula on bringing the real world into the classroom.
According Zalman Usiskin, Professsor in Education and Director of UCSMP, course work emphasizes problem solving, applications and the use of calculators, computers and other available technology. We also believe in raising expectations based on what the universal curricula of other countries indicate students can learn and eliminating excessive repetition and review at the elementary- and middle-school levels, he added.
The project has undertaken a broad range of activities, including the translation of mathematics-education literature from other countries, the development and commercial publication of curricula and teacher-training materials for K-12 levels, the critical evaluation of project materials and models, and the coordination of four international conferences in mathematics education.
UCSMP materials and models have undergone extensive evaluation, resulting in numerous published reports. These studies generally indicate that UCSMP students significantly outperform comparison students in the broader range of content covered in the UCSMP curriculum, with no loss of performance of those skills taught in both UCSMP and comparison curricula.
Four field reviewers, chosen from a pool of educators with expertise in mathematics, evaluated each program that made submissions to the Department of Education panel. The reviewers were asked to critique the programs quality, usefulness to others and educational significance.
Usiskin co-directs the development of the secondary curriculum with Sharon Senk, professor in mathematics at Michigan State University. Max Bell, Professor Emeritus in Education at Chicago, directed the development of the elementary curriculum.