Reviews of UCSMP Everyday Mathematics

(University of Chicago School Mathematics Project Everyday Math)

Basic Information and Introduction

Everyday Mathematics (Everyday Math, aka Chicago Math) is a K-6 curriculum developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) and published by Everyday Learning Corporation, now part of SRA McGraw-Hill. Curriculum development for Everyday Mathematics started in 1983. Max Bell was Project Director for the first edition of Everyday Math and James McBride is Project Director for the (current) 2nd edition.

The UCSMP maintains a web site,, to support users of Everyday Mathematics. There is also an SRA McGraw-Hill site for Everyday Mathematics.

Critical Reviews and Commentaries

Note: The first edition of Everyday Mathematics was updated several times, by addition of a student reference book and by addition of additional practice material ("skills links"). The second edition started appearing in the 2001-2002 school year (?) (Grade 4-6 materials carry copyright 2002) and the third edition in the 2006-2007 school year (?). In connection with the following reviews it would be useful to have an overview of significant modifications to Everyday Mathematics, at each grade level, including the year in which they were introduced in the classroom materials. We have not been able to find that information.

Mathematically Correct Second Grade Review of UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (1999). Part of a collection of comparative reviews of 2nd, 5th and 7th grade mathematics texts. These are detailed reviews with specific coverage of all the content areas expected at that grade level, and the reader is urged to study the original. The overall evaluation of Mathematically Correct for the Second Grade Everyday Mathematics program is captured here. "The overall evaluation of this program is mediocre, but that is far from telling the whole story. It is unusual in that some topics, such as perimeter and measurement, are covered quite well while other topics, notably addition and subtraction of whole numbers and to a lessor extent the work with time, are given a fairly weak treatment. The result appears to be related to the overall program philosophy which chooses to emphasize ideas and calculators and even mental arithmetic but de-emphasizes matters that require extensive practice and the use of algorithms. Multiplication, which is in the early stages in grade 2, is covered well given that the expectations are mostly conceptual and not intending to lead to mastery (or even close to it) at this level."

Mathematically Correct Fifth Grade Review of UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (1999). See the general comments under the Second Grade Everyday Math review. Again, the reader is urged to go the MC original. They conclude: "The overall evaluation of this program was next-to-lowest among the fifth grade programs in this review. The program comes across with the flavor of a survey of some rather sophisticated areas of mathematics for fifth-grade students without support for the development of topics or student mastery of content. This unusual combination of features makes it difficult to imagine a fifth-grade circumstance where such a program could be recommended."

Independent Analysis of Mathematics Textbooks, a Joint Research Project of Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Education Connection of Texas, January, 1999. This summary report is addressed primarily to officials that choose textbooks for local school districts. It compliments the Mathematically Correct analyses referred to above.

An Evaluation of Selected Mathematics Textbooks, by Wayne Bishop (May 1997). Prepared at the request of the Core Knowledge Foundation, this is a review of 2nd and 4th grade mathematics materials from Sadlier, SRA McGraw-Hill (CMC), Saxon, and Everyday Learning Corporation (Everyday Math). Bishop ranks Everyday Mathematics a distant last. About Everyday Math 2nd grade he writes: "In normal classrooms with normal teachers, I would characterize these materials as `dangerous.' My impression is that it would be very difficult to be sure that appropriate material has been covered adequately. One can expect a very high degree of teacher variability. Knowledgeable teachers, well grounded in the materials, may be able to pull it off; at least it's clear from the assessment book that there are some things that the children are supposed to know. There is almost no routine practice, although a small amount is built into the activities." The same criticism is amplified for the fourth grade Everyday Math materials.

Spiraling through UCSMP Everyday Mathematics, by Bas Braams (March 2003). The program's spiral nature and the concept of distributed practice is illustrated by the fourth grade coverage of whole number multiplication and division.

How Not to Teach Math, New York's chancellor Klein's plan doesn't compute, by Matthew Clavel (City Journal, Mar 7, 2003). The author describes his experience as a Teach for America volunteer in a Bronx classroom, forced to use the Everyday Mathematics curriculum against his and his fellow teachers' best judgement. Clavel takes issue with the program's over-emphasis on cooperative learning; its placement of "critical thinking" skills before basic knowledge; the haphazard, spiraling, movement between topics; the sudden jumps to advanced topics for which students have not been prepared; misguided homework assignments; and an over-reliance on calculators.

The Many Ways of Arithmetic in UCSMP Everyday Mathematics, by Bas Braams (Feb 2003). An overview of the multiple standard procedures for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in Everyday Mathematics.

A Critical Review of the New Constructivist Math Program under Consideration for Expansion to Higher Grade Levels by the Oak Ridge School System, by Tsewei Wang (March 4, 2001). "[Everyday Mathematics] is very weak and incomplete in its coverage, and it will not prepare high school students to take college math courses upon entering college without first taking a heavy dose of remedial math courses. Implementing it at the lower grade levels will undermine the students' ability to take traditional college preparatory math courses when they enter high school." The author is associate professor of chemical engineering at UT Knoxville.

Review of the Everyday Mathematics Curriculum and its Missing Topics and Skills, by Tsewei Wang (April 9, 2001). A more detailed review of the program. The report also criticizes two major longitudinal studies that have claimed effectiveness of Everyday Mathematics.

Weaknesses of Everyday Mathematics K-3, by David Klein (Nov 2000). A review of the K-3 Everyday Mathematics program with reference to the California mathematics framework. Klein finds that Everyday Mathematics K-3 should not be adopted for classroom use. Among the major shortcomings are: (1) The failure of Everyday Mathematics to adequately satisfy 12 of the 17 major CA grade level standards for grade 3. (2) The failure to develop the standard algorithms of arithmetic and to require memorization of basic addition and multiplication number facts at the grade levels specified in the California Mathematics standards. (3) The excessive and detrimental use of calculators in each of the grades K, 1, 2, and 3 curricula in contradiction to the California Mathematics Framework.

Evaluation of Submitted Changes for Everyday Mathematics, by David Klein (July, 1999). A review of 3rd and 5th grade materials submitted in connection with the California textbook submission of Everyday Math for grades K-6. Klein recommends that the submission be rejected for reasons including missing or drastically abridged presentations of the standard algorithms of arithmetic; promotion of calculator use contrary to the California Mathematics Standards; and absence of textbooks or materials for students for independent study.

Chicago Math, by Brian D. Rude (1996). A review of some Junior High materials from the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSM): the seventh grade "Transitions" textbook and the eight or ninth grade "Algebra" text. Rude identifies five premises in the Chicago Math series. (1: A high level of mathematical logic and language must be used. 2: Drill need not be used, understanding will suffice. 3: Organization of topics will be set by a repeating pattern. 4: All topics are related to all other topics and the best way to show these relations is to mix everything up together. 5: The focus should be broad from the beginning.) The article discusses each premise in turn and argues that together they result in a serious lack of coherence in the text and that they make it harder for students to learn mathematics.

Emphasis on mastery of computation skills in 3rd grade textbooks submitted for 2007 Texas SBOE approval, summary chart comparing SRA Real Math (Wright/McGraw), Saxon Math (Harcourt), enVisionMATH (Scott-Addison), Texas Math (Houghton), Texas HSP Math (Harcourt), Think Math! (Harcourt), Texas Math (Macmillan), and Everyday Math (Wright/McGraw). By Education Research Analysts, Longview, TX. Everyday Mathematics is ranked worst in their analysis.

Emphasis on mastery of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts in 3rd Grade Math texts submitted for 1999 Texas adoption, by "the Mel Gablers" (1999); see also Everyday Math is ranked worst among seven programs.

Looking at Everyday Mathematics, a collection of teacher reports from a Pittsburgh Teacher Institute seminar in 2003. We highlight the following reports from that collection. Exploring Geometry through the Everyday Mathematics Curriculum, by Roseann Y. Casciato. Games - Are Students Learning or Just Having Fun, by Tawnya Ford. Tracing the Development of "Fact Power" in Everyday Mathematics: Grades 1-5, by Susan Juffe. Operations and Everyday Mathematics, by Vita Nemirovsky. Fractions and Everyday Mathematics, by J. Jay Slosky.

Additional commentary and local activism

Have you researched your child's math text lately?, by Beth Schultz, The Times Record (ME), Commentaries, September 11, 2009.

Put two and two together, by Elizabeth Carson, Op-Ed, the New York Daily News, October 16, 2006. See also the published and unpublished reader letters in response to this column.

Weighing the Factors - Does the City's Standardized Math Curriculum Measure Up?, by Amy Sara Clark, YouthMatters, Columbia University Journalism Program, 2004.

Math Town Hall in Colorado Springs, Feb 2, 2004. Parent opposition to the programs Everyday Mathematics, Connected Mathematics Project, and Interactive Mathematics Program.

The Effect of Chicago Math on Everyday Students, by Karl Dahlke (2004?). An open letter to the Troy school district, Troy MI.

Everyday Math = 'Someday' Problems, by Karen Jones-Budd, posted April 25, 2003, on PBSfx: Parents for Better Schools in Fairfax County, VA. "Some elementary teachers and principals do not deeply understand the ramification of a math education that is poor in content and mastery. They love the warm, discovery-oriented nature of Everyday Math. They also see opportunities for teachers and children to be 'creative' in a group setting. Little do they know that some of the children will not be able to pass by the gatekeeper that is algebra. Or, if these students make it through a less rigorous algebra, then college math stops them dead in their tracks."

An Email Exchange about the Quality of Mathematics Education Research and "Everyday Mathematics" (March, 2003). This contains comments by David Klein about mathematics education research in general, with special reference to a study by Riordan and Noyce concerning Everyday Mathematics.

Joel Klein's Math Problems, by Bas Braams (op-ed, the New York Sun, Feb 6, 2003). About the choice of Everyday Mathematics as the standard curriculum for NYC elementary schools. "Mr. Klein would do well to reverse himself and listen to the advice about successful curricula that mathematicians and others have provided to him and his staff."

To Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education, by Wayne Bishop (April 10, 2002) and To Ms Colaizzi and the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education, by Wayne Bishop (Mar 12, 2002). Two letters about reform mathematics programs in the Pittsburgh public schools. The letters provide a very critical look at some of the research cited in support of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum in Pittsburgh.

My Experience with Everyday Mathematics, by Karen S. Jones-Budd (Feb 12, 2002). A letter to Superintendent Till of Broward County, FL, describing the author's experience with the need to supplement her childrens' "Everyday Math" education.

Constructivist Mathematics in the Oak Ridge Schools, by Tsewei Wang and J. Douglas Birdwell (updated April 10, 2001). A letter to the public and to local officials opposing the adoption of Everyday Math in the Oak Ridge, TN, schools system. The letter summarizes some of the concerns, nationwide, over the Everyday Mathematics curriculum, and introduces a critical review by one of the authors.

A Review of Everyday Math, by Tse-Wei Wang and J. Douglas Birdwell. Transparencies for a presentation to the Head of Curriculum, Oak Ridge Schools, March 26, 2001.

Concerned Parents of Reading (MA) to the State Board of Education. A letter of Feb 13, 2000 from Dr. Bob Mandell on behalf of a group of parents concerned about the implementation of the "Chicago Math Program" Everyday Mathematics in their local elementary school. The letter includes an analysis of declining test scores on Stanford-8 and Stanford-9 in the school.

Concerned Parents of Reading, MA, Letters. A record of correspondence of the Concerned Parents of Reading with their school administration about concerns over UCSMP's Everyday Mathematics. The page also links to letters to parents and to the press. We highlight the Letter to the Editor of June 25, 1997, which expresses the CPR's disappointment over the lack of cooperation from the district administration.

Reading Mastery Is New Requisite For Solving Math, by David J. Hoff (Education Week, Dec 5, 2001). Offers conflicting views on the amount of reading and writing required in reform mathematics programs, drawing on the Everyday Mathematics program for examples.

This page is part of a collection of links to reviews of and commentaries on K-12 mathematics curricula and standards that is maintained by Bas Braams, Elizabeth Carson, and NYC HOLD. This ring of pages includes: TERC Investigations - Everyday Mathematics - Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) - Concepts and Skills - Structure and Method - College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) - Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) - Mathematics, Modelling our World (MMOW) - CPMP Contemporary Mathematics in Context - Saxon Math - NCTM Standards