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For more information contact:
Trisha Thomas
Illustrative Mathematics
tthomas@illustrativemathematics.org

Illustrative Mathematics Appoints Recognized Financial Industry Leader Kristen Welch as CFO

Tuscon, AZ – November 6, 2017 — Illustrative Mathematics is pleased to announce its recent hiring of Kristen Welch, who has joined the team as Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Welch brings extensive experience from her 27 years in key positions with Discovery Communications, including Chief Financial Officer for both Discovery Channel and Science Channel. Her extensive experience at Discovery will support Illustrative Mathematics’ strategic growth plan and will be invaluable in advancing the organization’s mission to create a world where people know, use, and enjoy mathematics.

Most recently, Ms. Welch served as Senior Vice President, Global Content Operations for Discovery Communications, where she had responsibility for developing standard processes and systems for producing and broadcasting programs across 32 networks and 220 countries. As Senior Vice President, Corporate Financial Planning, Analysis, and Strategy, she coordinated the annual company-wide business and strategic planning process.

“Kris is a strong addition to Illustrative Mathematics’ senior leadership team and will play a key role as we grow and evolve,” said Lisa O’Masta, Chief Executive Officer. “She understands where we are as an organization and has the expertise to support the development and execution of our strategic plan as we continue to expand our reach.”

In accepting the position as Chief Financial Officer, Ms. Welch shared, “I’m excited to be part of the Illustrative Mathematics team. The organization’s mission aligns with my own passion for education and is a wonderful opportunity for me to not only put my knowledge and experience to work but to have a real impact on teaching and learning.”

Ms. Welch’s professional achievements and recognition extend outside of her work for Discovery Communications. For the past 10 years, she has served as a board member of the national Alliance for Women in Media (AWM), including two years as Chair. In 2013, Ms. Welch was honored with a Women Leading Women award from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. In 2011, she was named a Person to Watch by The Financial Manager, the magazine of the Media Financial Management Association.

The Illustrative Mathematics Board of Directors and staff look forward to working with Ms. Welch and extend her a warm welcome.


Kristin Umland to Be the Next Recipient of the Louise Hay Award for Her Outstanding Achievements and Significant Contributions to Mathematics Education

Tucson, AZ – August 29, 2017 — is proud to announce that Kristin Umland, Vice President for Content Development, is the recipient of the Association for Women in Mathematics’ (AWM) twenty-eighth annual Louise Hay Award. Dr. Umland will be presented with the award at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, CA in January 2018 in recognition of her leadership and contributions advancing large-scale improvement in mathematics education. The recipient of the 2017 Louise Hay Award was Cathy Kessel, making this is the second year in a row that a member of the Illustrative Mathematics team has been honored.

“Kristin is a driving force behind the Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math curriculum, and a model for the profession of a true mathematician educator,” said Dr. William McCallum, Founder and President of Illustrative Mathematics.

Prior to joining Illustrative Mathematics full time in 2016, Dr. Umland was on the faculty of the Mathematics and Statistics Department at the University of New Mexico. While there, she revamped mathematics courses for non-mathematics majors and for prospective teachers, led collaborative professional development projects for K–12 teachers in New Mexico, and investigated the impact of Math Teachers’ Circles. In 2011, her support of the national K–12 mathematics community in the transition to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSS-M) led to her collaboration with Dr. McCallum, the leader of the CCSS-M writing team, to launch Illustrative Mathematics, a non-profit organization created by mathematicians, mathematics educators, and teachers that illustrates how CCSS-M can be effectively implemented.

As Vice President for Content Development, Dr. Umland has been instrumental in overseeing the development by a group of 100 editors and 550 reviewers of more than 1,200 highly vetted tasks illustrating CCSS-M. She is also the lead author of Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math, an Open Educational Resource math curriculum. Throughout her career, Dr. Umland has effectively bridged the domains of mathematics, education, and policy as evidenced by the many workshops and sessions that she has organized for national meetings, bringing together veteran and emerging scholars from the fields of mathematics and mathematics education.


Illustrative Mathematics to Develop Openly Licensed High School Math Curriculum in Partnership with Open Up Resources

Following the successful release of their middle school math curriculum, Illustrative Mathematics begins development of a comprehensive high school math curriculum that will also be freely available to schools.

Tucson, AZ – August 29, 2017 — Illustrative Mathematics is pleased to announce they will be partnering again with Open Up Resources to develop a comprehensive high school math curriculum that will provide educators affordable access to standards-aligned content, teaching resources, and professional learning services that are not currently found in other curricula on the market. The curriculum is slated to be piloted during the 2018–19 school year and published as an Open Educational Resource (OER) for 2019–20 adoption by schools and districts. The high school math curriculum comes on the heels of the development of the highly anticipated Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math which is being evaluated by hundreds of districts.

“We are excited to continue our work with Open Up Resources to fill the quality gap in the K–12 mathematics curriculum market,” said acclaimed mathematician and Illustrative Mathematics founder and president, Dr. William McCallum. “There is a great need for high-quality standards-aligned curriculum across the grades. Our grades 6–8 mathematics curriculum addresses the focus, coherence, and rigor called for by the standards, so lacking in many curricula for grades 6–8. We now plan to do the same for high school. We will start by researching specific needs in high school classrooms for improved student outcomes, and will design the new high school mathematics curriculum in line with that research.”

The comprehensive high school curriculum will cover Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 and will flow coherently from the middle school program. Based on sound mathematical progressions, the curriculum will develop students’ mathematical thinking skills through questioning, discussion, and real-world contexts and connections. The curriculum will also leverage the mathematical language routines developed by Stanford University’s UL-SCALE to support English language learners, and will include built-in differentiation supports for students with disabilities and accelerated students.

According to Dr. McCallum, “input from educators will be vital to the development of the high school curriculum. While we already know that existing math curricula aren’t meeting the needs of today’s educators, we want to make sure we address the specific gaps educators face. From the construct of the lessons to the teacher materials, we will ensure that the new curriculum provides educators with precisely what they need to develop students into mathematical thinkers.”

As with Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math, a range of professional learning services will be available from Illustrative Mathematics to introduce teachers to the design of the materials, built-in routines, and resources for differentiating instruction. Ongoing in-person and virtual support will also be available should questions arise as teachers implement the program in their classrooms.


Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math Provides Districts a High-Quality, Freely Available OER Full Basil Curriculum Designed to Deepen Student Thinking and Increase Mathematical Achievement

Authored by Illustrative Mathematics and available through Open Up Resources, Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math is now available to districts following a successful pilot in numerous districts.

Tucson, AZ – August 24, 2017 — Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math is now freely available to school districts. Developed by Illustrative Mathematics, this is the first openly licensed complete core program released by Open Up Resources, the nonprofit provider of openly licensed curriculum for K–12 schools. Illustrative Mathematics is the nonprofit founded by standards author Bill McCallum to improve mathematics instruction in U.S. schools

Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math is a problem-based curriculum that fosters discussion-filled classrooms and encourages students to show their mathematical thinking in multiple ways. The curriculum, which has been published as an Open Educational Resource under Creative Commons license CC BY, is available in both digital and print formats at www.openupresources.org/math-curriculum.

Developed in response to the need for a middle school math curriculum that fully addresses standards and develops students' mathematical thinking skills, Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math is “built on the coherence and progressions in the standards, and designed with tasks, norms, and routines to help teachers engage students in a problem-solving classroom,” says lead author Bill McCallum. “The Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math curriculum gives us a bearing on a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. I am proud of the finely crafted work of our team of teachers and mathematicians.”

“Every student deserves access to excellent curriculum, no matter the resources of their school district,” says Larry Singer, Open Up Resources CEO. “Today’s open release of Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math sets the standard for our work, as we make freely available a core basil program of truly exceptional quality and support districts across the country with its implementation.”

During the 2016–17 school year, numerous districts nationwide helped fine-tune the curriculum as part of a yearlong pilot. Daily teacher feedback was used by the Illustrative Mathematics authoring team in the refinement of the materials.

The pilot release districts included: Sunnyside Unified School District (AZ), Buncombe County Schools (NC), Vancouver Public Schools (WA), Evergreen Public Schools (WA), Tumwater School District (WA), and Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (CA). All of these districts are continuing to use the curriculum, and most are adopting district-wide.

“We adopted the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum district-wide because we saw huge increases in student engagement with the materials,” says Corrine Williams, Mathematics Specialist at Evergreen Public Schools. “Students were constantly talking about math, using precise language, and constructing mathematically sound arguments. The curriculum facilitates productive struggle for our learners, and teachers have been excited to shift their instruction from being the ‘sage on the stage’ to the ‘guide on the side.’”

“This is the complete, aligned, big-picture-driven curriculum that we have been seeking for many years, says Stefanie Buckner, Mathematics Curriculum Specialist for Buncombe County Schools. “There are products on the market aligned to content or practice, but Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math is truly the first that aligns in equal intensity to both. We are excited to move to a district-wide adoption in all three grades this year.”

A survey of the teachers who used the curriculum in its beta release showed that 90 percent found the curriculum highly effective or effective, and another 90 percent said that they would either recommend—or already had recommended—that their peers use the program.

The math curriculum is expected to give districts an 80 percent overall savings versus the cost of adopting materials from traditional publishers. Districts need only invest in implementation services, such as printing and professional development, which Open Up Resources and Illustrative Mathematics provide.

Districts interested in exploring Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math can visit www.openupresources.org/math-curriculum.


Illustrative Mathematics Names Dynamic and Visionary Educational Technology Leader Karl Nelson as CTO/COO

Tucson, AZ – July 24, 2017 – Illustrative Mathematics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving mathematics instruction in U.S. schools through the development, sharing, and effective implementation of standards-based teaching resources, has announced Karl Nelson as its new Chief Technology and Chief Operations Officer. Mr. Nelson has extensive experience in both the development of open educational resources (OER) for K-12 schools and the implementation of educational technology. His skills and background, combined with his passion for K-12 education, will help advance Illustrative Mathematics’ mission to create a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics.

Most recently, Mr. Nelson served as Chief Operating Officer for Open Up Resources, where he led product development activities, developed content quality assurance processes, and directed the implementation of new technologies within the organization. From 2010 to 2015, Mr. Nelson was Director of Digital Learning for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington state. In that role, he created Washington’s K-12 OER project and was the state lead for the K-12 OER Collaborative, a multi-state effort to develop OER. He was also lead policy maker for digital education, responsible for the development and implementation of an online provider approval process, rule writing, and providing technical support to districts.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better fit than Karl for this new position with Illustrative Mathematics,” said Lisa O’Masta, Chief Executive Officer. “His experience working within school districts to implement OER will provide us with valuable insight into how we can further tailor our resources and services to meet the needs of educators. That, coupled with his time leading product development and streamlining processes at a nonprofit similar to our own, gives Karl truly unique insights and abilities.”

According to Mr. Nelson, “Illustrative Mathematics is just the type of organization where I feel I can make a real impact on our education system and the lives of students. Since early in my career I have focused on how technology can be used to improve both organizational operations as well as teaching and learning. In this role with Illustrative Mathematics, I will get to leverage my skills in both of these areas.”

One of Mr. Nelson’s first responsibilities with Illustrative Mathematics will be to guide the development and launch of the Guided Customization Tool (GCT) for the Illustrative Mathematics Middle School Curriculum launching later this summer in partnership with Open Up Resources. “Research with both classroom teachers and administrators points to a real need for tools that enable teachers to customize core curriculum materials to meet the unique needs of their students while preserving pedagogical integrity,” shared Ms. O’Masta. GCT will be a cloud-based platform that will ensure the safe customization of the Middle School Curriculum, as well as provide a place for teachers around the world to share and discuss their customizations and work together to support the effective implementation of the curriculum. “GCT will really benefit from Karl’s experience working with educators at the OSPI in Washington state. He knows first-hand the different needs and priorities of teachers and school leaders and how we can marry those into a powerful online resource.”

The Illustrative Mathematics Board of Directors and staff are pleased to welcome Mr. Nelson and look forward to his leadership and his contributions to the organization’s next phase of growth.


Illustrative Mathematics Founder Dr. William McCallum Joins Other Educational Technology Leaders to Judge the Prestigious SIAA CODiE Awards

Phoenix, AZ – June 6, 2017 – Each year the SIIA CODiE Awards recognize thousands of software, information and education technology companies for achieving excellence. The awards have two divisions, business technology and education technology. With 35 categories in the education technology category alone, the judging is a huge undertaking. Illustrative Mathematics is proud to have founder and president Dr. William McCallum participate as a 2017 CODiE judge to help identify and recognize the most innovative and visionary edtech products on the market.

As a noted mathematician and standards author, Dr. McCallum brings a unique eye to evaluating the impact of educational technology products on teaching and learning. He is a judge for the Best Mathematics Instructional Solution category. “It’s been a truly enlightening and enjoyable experience to review so many outstanding products and to see the direction the industry is going,” shared Dr. McCallum. “I’ve been impressed by many of the programs submitted to this year’s CODiE Awards.”

In 2009–2010 Dr. McCallum was one of the lead writers for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. He is a University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the University of Arizona and has worked both in mathematics research, in the area of number theory and arithmetical algebraic geometry, and in mathematics education, writing textbooks and advising researchers and policy makers. He holds a Ph. D. in Mathematics from Harvard University and a B.Sc. from the University of New South Wales.

First round judges’ evaluation of the nominated products will conclude May 26 and the 2017 CODiE Award finalists will be announced June 12. The winners will be honored at a gala event held at the InterContinental Hotel San Francisco on July 26. For more information about attending the SIIA EdTech Business Awards, visit https://www.siia.net/codie.


Mad River Local School District Improves Mathematics Instruction with Professional Learning Support from the Non-Profit Illustrative Mathematics

Modeling and coaching help elementary teachers deepen their understanding of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and how to implement the standards using GO Math! *

Phoenix, AZ – May 24, 2017 – Elementary teachers throughout the Mad River Local School District near Dayton, OH, are entering their classrooms with renewed confidence in and enthusiasm for teaching math. Partnering with Illustrative Mathematics, a non-profit dedicated to providing guidance to states, districts, curriculum writers, and assessment writers to help improve mathematics education, Mad River’s teachers are now empowered to deliver focused, coherent, rigorous mathematical practices in their classrooms using the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt curriculum, GO Math! The foundation of the district’s success was a one-day professional learning workshop and ongoing coaching from the district’s math coaches.

“During our first year with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), we quickly realized that in order to provide more effective guidance to teachers in reshaping their classroom practice to meet the standards, our coaching team needed to deepen their own understanding of the standards and their impact on instruction,” shared Mad River Instructional Coach, Amy Holbrook. The district was using K-5 Guidance Documents from Student Achievement Partners to align GO Math! to CCSS, but teachers were craving additional information and direction. The Mad River team was introduced to Illustrative Mathematics by Student Achievement Partners as an organization that could help provide further support in the comprehension and implementation of CCSS using GO Math!

Illustrative Mathematics’ professional learning service team designed a one-day workshop to help Mad River coaches and teachers better understand the standards. Participants learned to:

  • Interpret the guidance documents aligning GO Math! with CCSS.
  • Identify extraneous content within GO Math! based on the standards.
  • Supplement gaps with high-quality, freely available resources through Illustrative Mathematics, LearnZillion, and Engage NY.

Additionally, the Illustrative Mathematics certified facilitator modeled the use of the guidance documents with fraction progressions so that educators could experience what they’d learned in action.

“Our Illustrative Mathematics facilitator dramatically grew our knowledge base and has started to reframe our understanding of the work ahead and better ways to meet the needs of teachers and students,” commented Ms. Holbrook. Following the Illustrative Mathematics workshop, district math coaches worked collaboratively with classroom teachers to develop an action plan using the progression documents. The plan includes implementing Illustrative Mathematics free tasks in the classroom and working with teachers to encourage the consistent use of the new instructional practices that were modeled in the workshop and by coaches.

“Teachers are eager to learn and are looking for ways to enhance their instructional practices so that their students can be successful with the standards. Mad River recognized the need to support teachers as they strive to meet standards and improve students’ learning experiences,” said Lisa O’Masta, CEO of Illustrative Mathematics. “We are honored to have the opportunity to work with the exceptional educators in the district.”

Learn more about Illustrative Mathematics’ IM Learning GO Math! professional learning workshops at www.illustrativemathematics.org/gomath.

*GO Math! is a registered trademark of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Kristin Umland Honored by the American Mathematical Society for Her Contributions and Dedication to the Improvement of K-12 Mathematics Education

May 8, 2017 – Illustrative Mathematics is pleased to announce that Kristin Umland, Vice President for Content Development, has received the 2017 American Mathematical Society (AMS) Award for Impact on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics. The award is given each year to a mathematician who has made significant contributions of lasting value to mathematics education. Dr. Umland’s contributions include her role in the development of the nonprofit organization Illustrative Mathematics.

"Kristin Umland has worked with energy, vision, and commitment on improving mathematics education at the precollege level," said Tara Holm of Cornell University, who served as chair of the Impact Award selection committee. "She brings high-level mathematical knowledge together with deep understanding of the needs of school mathematics teachers. Her work at Illustrative Mathematics makes quality materials available to millions of teachers and also serves as an effective means for professional development. We are happy to recognize her outstanding work with the AMS Impact Award."

Prior to joining Illustrative Mathematics full time in 2016, Dr. Umland was on the faculty of the Mathematics and Statistics Department at the University of New Mexico. While there, she made significant improvements in the mathematics courses for both elementary and secondary pre-service teachers, adding rigor as well as more-relevant material. In 2011, her support of the national K-12 mathematics community in the transition to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSS-M) led to her to collaborate with William McCallum of the University of Arizona, the leader of the CCSS-M writing team, to launch Illustrative Mathematics, a nonprofit organization created by mathematicians, mathematics educators, and teachers, that illustrates how CCSS-M can be effectively implemented.

“When I shared my vision for Illustrative Mathematics with Kristin back in 2010, I discovered that she was already thinking along the same lines about a community to support CCSS-M implementation,” said Dr. McCallum. “Kristin’s ability to strike the balance between mathematical integrity and the needs of students and teachers is unparalleled. Her work for Illustrative Mathematics has been both foundational and transformative. We would not be where we are today without her.” Today, the Illustrative Mathematics website receives an average of one million visitors viewing tasks per month.

As Vice President for Content Development, Dr. Umland has been instrumental in overseeing the development of more than 1,200 highly vetted tasks illustrating CCSS-M by a group of 100 editors and 550 reviewers. She is also the lead author of Open Up Resources Middle School Curriculum authored by Illustrative Mathematics, an Open Educational Resource math curriculum that will be released in July. Throughout her career, Dr. Umland has contributed deep mathematical knowledge and immeasurable support to K-12 educators as they work to prepare students for academic and college and career success, making her one of the outstanding mathematics educators working in the nation today.

Original article from the AMS can be found here.


Dr. Cathy Kessel Receives the Louise Hay Award from the Association for Women in Mathematics for Contributions in Mathematics Education

Phoenix, AZ – April 3, 2017 – Illustrative Mathematics is proud to announce that Senior Editor Cathy Kessel has received the Twenty-Seventh Annual Louise Hay Award from the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). Established in 1991 and presented annually, the award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions in mathematics education.

Cathy Kessel earned her Ph.D. in mathematics, specializing in mathematical logic, from the University of Colorado, Boulder and has taught mathematics at various institutions of higher education throughout the U.S. During the 1990s, she made the shift from being a mathematician to learning about research in mathematics education, auditing courses at the University of California at Berkeley, and observing and analyzing mathematics teaching and learning in the U.S. and Australia. These activities led to many publications with several education researcher co-authors, and to further work in mathematics education.

A standards, curriculum, or assessment document is often written by a group of writers from different backgrounds—mathematicians, mathematics education researchers, teachers, and other educators. In working with such groups of writers, Dr. Kessel has displayed the ability to edit what mathematicians write, making it readable by educators and the general public, and to edit what educators write, making it readable by mathematicians. Her talents have shaped discussions of mathematics education in the U.S., with works including the Progressions for the Common Core State Standards and The Mathematical Education of Teachers as well as descriptions of mathematics education in East Asia, such as Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics: Teachers’ Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and the United States, Learning Across Boundaries: U.S.–Japan Collaboration in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, and Mathematics Curriculum, Teacher Professionalism, and Supporting Policies in Korea and the United States.

“For Cathy, mathematics is more than a career,” said Dr. William McCallum, Founder and President of Illustrative Mathematics. “She has dedicated years to making improvements in the field of mathematics education, and her impressive credentials prove her impact. We are honored to have an individual at Illustrative Mathematics who is as knowledgeable, versatile, and passionate as Cathy is. It’s rare to find a mathematics educator who is as equally talented a mathematician as a writer and editor. The field of mathematics should feel as honored to have her as a member of their community. This award is testament to that.”

Upon accepting the award, Dr. Kessel thanked her teachers and mentors. “Receiving this honor makes me very conscious of how many people have helped to improve my scholarship, writing, and editing, and deepen my knowledge of mathematics,” she said. Read Dr. Kessel’s full response, here.

As a Senior Editor at Illustrative Mathematics, Dr. Kessel serves as the lead copy editor for the middle school mathematics curriculum, providing feedback to writers on style and content.


About Illustrative Mathematics

Illustrative Mathematics is based on a mission of creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. Founded in 2011 at the University of Arizona, the organization has operated as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization since 2013. Illustrative Mathematics collaborates with and provides guidance to states, districts, curriculum writers, and assessment writers to help improve mathematics education.