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Release: Oct. 6, 1999

National education panel ranks math program co-developed at UI 'exemplary'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A grade nine to 12 mathematics program co-developed by University of Iowa faculty and graduates is one of only five in the country designated as "exemplary" by the U.S. Department of Education -- the highest possible rating for a school mathematics and sciences curriculum program.

"Contemporary Mathematics in Context" (CMIC), which is being used in nearly 500 schools throughout the country, was developed by the Core-Plus Mathematics Project, a multi-site national development and research project funded by the National Science Foundation beginning in 1992. Harold L. Schoen, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa, is a co-director of the Core-Plus Project. Also involved are senior author Eric W. Hart, who received a Ph.D. from the UI in 1987, and evaluation coordinator Steven Ziebarth, who received a Ph.D. from the UI in 1994.

CMIC was among 61 school mathematics and science curriculum programs evaluated by the U.S. Department of Education's Expert Panel. The panel's ratings were announced today by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education C. Kent McGuire at the Improving America's Schools Conference in Tampa, Fla. The rankings were based on several criteria, including a program's quality, usefulness to others, educational significance and evidence of effectiveness and success.

"The CMIC curriculum puts recent recommendations for improving mathematics education into practice. Our research shows that it works," said Schoen, who holds 50 percent appointments in the UI College of Education's Curriculum & Instruction Division and the mathematics department in the College of Liberal Arts. "This 'exemplary' rating is further validation of CMIC's success."

Each of the four courses of the CMIC curriculum was developed over four years, a project that involved writing the curriculum, conducting pilot tests in 20 schools, field tests nationally in 36 schools and publication by the Everyday Learning Corporation. The fourth and final course in the curriculum is still under development.

The University of Iowa site was primarily responsible for conducting the evaluation/research component of the Core-Plus Mathematics Project. The UI site also developed the package of tests, quizzes, projects and other assessment instruments for use with the CMIC curriculum.

In addition to being used by students in grades nine to 12, the curriculum is widely used for the professional development of preservice and inservice teachers in universities and school systems. About 25 schools in Iowa use the CMIC, including City High and West High in Iowa City and Prairie High School in the College Community District, Cedar Rapids.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Several local teachers who are using the CMIC are available for interviews. For contact information, call Stephen Pradarelli at (319) 384-0007.