The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project

The University of Chicago

Director: Zalman Usiskin


The University of Chicago


1) Develop and maintain K-6 curriculum, 2) develop and maintain 7-12 curriculum, 3) translate textbooks and other educational material from other countries, 4) develop training materials for both elementary and secondary school teachers, and 5) hold an annual conference to discuss the project’s philosophy and curriculum.


UCSMP believes that, with the information explosion and advances in technology, society today demands not just basic computation skills but a more sophisticated understanding of mathematics. It seeks to raise the expectations for all students, bringing their performance in mathematics to world-class standards.



Guiding Principles

UCSMP has created a curriculum for students from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. These educational materials bring the real world into the classroom. They emphasize reading, problem-solving, everyday applications, and the use of calculators, computers, and other technologies. Unnecessary repetition and review are eliminated, so that by the end of high school, even the average student can learn higher mathematics once reserved only for advanced placement classes.

Elementary School Curriculum

Research with children and teachers led us to a number of principles for developing the Everyday Mathematics curriculum:

• From their own experience children construct an understanding of mathematics and acquire knowledge and skills. Teachers and other adults are a very important part of that experience.

• Children begin school with quite a lot of knowledge and intuition on which to build. One important task for the K-6 curriculum is to help children make the gradual transition from intuition and concrete operations to abstractions and symbol processing skills.

• Excellent instruction is very important. It should provide rich contexts and accommodate a variety of learning styles.

• Reforms often fail because they do not take into consideration the working lives of teachers. The new curriculum should be practical and manageable and it should include suggestions and procedures that make teachers' lives easier, at least in the long run.

• The new curriculum should include practical routines to help build the arithmetic skills and quick responses that are so essential for building number sense, estimation skills, and flexibility in a problem-rich environment.

Secondary School Curriculum

Several important features distinguish UCSMP textbooks from standard materials: wider scope, an abundance of applications to practical problems, a multidimensional approach to understanding, instructional format, projects, and for in-depth exploration of topics. The texts are: Transition Mathematics; Geometry; Algebra; Advanced Algebra; Statistics, Functions and Trigonometry; and Pre-Calculus and Discrete Mathematics.

Professional Development

• MathTools for Teachers of K-3 – A year-long sequence of monthly workshops

• Grades 4-6 Mathematics Specialist Program – A two year course

• MathTools for Teachers of 4-6 – A year-long workshop

• Daylong workshops for teachers and supervisors of 7-12

• Annual conferences for current and perspective users of UCSMP materials

Project Management Plan


Formative Evaluation Plans


Timeline of Project Activities



The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) was founded in 1983 with the aim of upgrading mathematics education in elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States.