April 24, 2018
Building upon the highly acclaimed Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math Curriculum, the nonprofit will develop the curriculum framework and blueprints for PreK–5 classrooms, along with unit modules and professional learning for Kindergarten.
Tucson, AZ – April 24, 2018 — Illustrative Mathematics (IM) today announced it has received philanthropic funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to continue its work building freely available mathematics curriculum for PreK–12 classrooms.
In service of its larger plan to release a full PreK–5 program as an Open Educational Resource (OER), IM will use the WKKF grant to construct a PreK–5 curriculum framework, Kindergarten curriculum modules, and professional learning supports. All materials will be based on early childhood learning research, standards for mathematics progressions, and best practices in supporting professional learning for elementary educators.
While many elementary curriculum programs are available to districts, educators often focus their limited resources on grades 3–5, when testing generally begins. “Research tells us that what students know when they enter Kindergarten is a predictor of middle school achievement,” says Illustrative Mathematics founder and president Dr. Bill McCallum. “To improve elementary mathematics teaching and learning, we have to establish a strong foundation right from the start—teachers need access to high-quality, coherent, balanced curriculum, as well as ongoing and embedded professional learning, so that they can support students at the beginning of their mathematical journey.”
IM released its first OER core program, Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math,in 2017, after a year-long, 175-teacher beta effort to refine the materials. The problem-based curriculum sparks discussion, perseverance, and enjoyment of mathematics. Students learn by doing, solving problems in mathematical and real-world contexts, and constructing arguments using precise language.
The IM 6–8 curriculum received the highest rating among middle school math programs on EdReports, the independent nonprofit conducting in-depth materials evaluations based on the alignment of the curriculum to standards, in addition to indicators of content quality and usability.
With the tremendous interest and excitement from IM’s middle school program, requests from educators to see IM expand to elementary and high school grades have been overwhelming. IM sees its efforts to author affordable, high-quality mathematics curricula as only the first step toward closing the achievement gap and creating educational equity. “To successfully implement quality materials, educators need professional development that elevates their practice and supports the shift toward a classroom driven by student discourse,” says Lisa O’Masta, CEO of IM. “We release our curricula for free as OER so districts can afford both quality curriculum and quality professional learning without sacrificing one or the other.”
“We believe all children should have an equal opportunity to live a full life with high-quality early childhood experiences,” says WKKF program officer Renee Blahuta. “Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten help set the foundation for success in mathematics throughout life, so elementary educators need equitable access to exceptional materials that make math accessible to all learners. Based on their experience with middle school mathematics and their exceptional reputation among educators, IM is uniquely qualified to spearhead work on a coherent OER PreK–5 curriculum that engages children and supports thriving communities.”
In addition to beginning development on an elementary curriculum, IM is expected to launch an OER high school curriculum in 2019. Looking forward, IM plans to build on the results of these efforts to develop a complete, coherent, and freely available PreK–12 curriculum, supported by scalable and high-quality professional learning opportunities.
“We’re thankful to WKKF for supporting our efforts to build a comprehensive program that sparks learners’ understanding and enjoyment of mathematics,” adds McCallum.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit