In a story for The 74 via Yahoo News about New York City's Illustrative Mathematics curriculum mandate, MƒA President Maria Klawe shares her thoughts on math teachers and their students having access to high-quality instructional materials and support. 

Maria Klawe, president of Math for America, a non-profit organization founded 20 years ago to keep outstanding math and science teachers in the classroom, lauded the city’s choice of Illustrative Mathematics, calling it a very strong curriculum. She had already reviewed some of the materials and praised its approach in taking math from the theoretical to the practical.

“The whole idea is trying to help students understand that a mathematical concept, even if it’s abstract in nature, is actually something that you encounter in your daily life,” she said. “You have a sense that what you’re learning is … something that you can actually use.”

Klawe also credited Department of Education officials for making the curriculum the standard for schools. She said it allows teachers to work together across the city to share best practices.

“It’s also very helpful for students who move from one school to another,” she added.

MƒA Master Teacher Meredith Klein says there is a debate on whether or not the curriculum works for everyone. 

Meredith Klein, who worked for more than a decade at International High School at Union Square before switching to West Brooklyn Community High School, which serves under-credited students, said the new curriculum might not satisfy all kids’ needs.

“I’ve always worked with a really specialized population of students and the curriculum is usually not designed with them in mind,” she said.

Klein has spent the past year implementing Illustrative Mathematics as part of the pilot program and said she struggled to adapt the materials for her students. While the city initially pushed for strict adherence to a pre-set learning schedule, the coach who visited with her to help with the rollout soon recognized the need for adaptation.

“The curriculum is written like a story and you need to teach the full curriculum without any alterations for a full year,” she said, but that’s not the educational experience of so many of the students she’s served. “There wasn’t any guidance about how to break it up … how to retrofit it to our existing system. Not all students are the same.”