WMU News

WMU-based mathematics curriculum lauded as exemplary

Oct. 8, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- A high school mathematics curriculum developed by a team based at Western Michigan University and used in a number of schools throughout the nation received the U.S. Department of Education's highest possible rating today.

Contemporary Mathematics in Context, an innovative program developed by the Core Plus Mathematics Project, was designated as one of five "exemplary" programs in the nation by the U.S. Department of Education. The announcement was made by Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement C. Kent McGuire at the 1999 Regional Conference on Improving America's Schools in Tampa, Fla.

Dr. Christian Hirsch, project director for the Core Plus Mathematics Project and professor of mathematics and statistics at WMU, attended the announcement and spoke at the event.

Contemporary Mathematics in Context was chosen as exemplary by the Department's Expert Panel on Mathematics and Statistics. The panel reviewed 61 programs and made their selections based on the programs' quality, usefulness to others, educational significance and evidence of effectiveness and success.

The program's development began in 1992 when Hirsch organized a team of researchers from the Universities of Iowa, Maryland and Michigan to develop a curriculum to meet new standards for mathematics education established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1989. The team's project, dubbed the Core Plus Mathematics Project, has garnered more than $11 million in funding from the National Science Foundation.

The program is innovative in that each year, students study algebra and geometry in addition to important topics from statistics, probability, and operations research.

The curriculum is currently used by more than 300 schools nationwide from Alaska to Delaware. More than 20 schools in Michigan use the program as well, including schools in Ann Arbor, Saginaw, Battle Creek, Traverse City and Bloomfield Hills.

In comparing students learning the Contemporary Mathematics curriculum with those in traditional math curriculums, research shows that the Contemporary Mathematics students are doing as well as or better on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams. In addition, these students outperformed others on the quantitative thinking subtest of the Iowa Tests of Education Development.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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