My colleague Bob and I sat down and put together our notes and thoughts when comparing CPM (College Preparatory Math) and IM (Illustrative Mathematics Open Up Curriculum). Our 7th and 8th grade has been using CPM for the past four years. Some of our 6th grade has used CPM.
For full disclosure, I have written assessment questions for CPM which I get a royalty payment from, attended many of their summer PD’s, attended their Academy of Best Practices weeklong PD, and worked on TRC investigating structuring class time for practice problems using study team strategies. Some of my colleagues also have taken a course at San Francisco State by Judy Kych, one of the founders of CPM.
I have had access since the pilot last year to the 8th grade materials of IM, but have been investigating the 6th and 7th grade material lately, particularly for the first unit on Similar Figures for 7th grade.
Let’s start with.. CPM:
- Pro: training is free. Con: training time is inconvenient for some teachers during the summer and/or the school week.
- Pro: familiarity within 7th and 8th grade and some of the 6th grade sporadically. Con: all of 6th is unfamiliar and not trained, some using different curriculums & FAL’s.
- Pro: We have in-class CPM textbooks Courses 1-3. Con: No textbook at home and no workbooks with classwork in it.
- Pro: All homework problems available freely online. Con: students prefer homework packets which uses lots of paper (some can be reused from past years)
- Pro: Students are used to the built-in structured teamwork with roles. Con: It can be difficult to implement without using strategies.
- Pro: Students learn about y=mx+b through patterns. Some of the problems are engaging and group-worthy. Con: The curriculum doesn’t feel fully aligned to Common Core Standards (e.g. weak on how coordinates are affected by coordinates, 3D geometry with little scaffolding, 2-way frequency tables with rural context, etc.)
- Pro: The high school we feed into has recently switched to CPM. Con: Students, especially RSP, 504, EL, struggle reading the book and transferring their eyes from medium to medium and writing in a notebook.
…and now Illustrative Math:
- Pro: The curriculum is freely available to teachers, students, and parents. Con: Districts must arrange and budget for PD: trainers coming to schools, virtual coaching, and other options. One option, where a department member flies to a training and comes back and trains the rest of the staff, seemed expensive.
- Pro: Highly rigorous Pre and post assessments are already produced. Con: Curriculum is new so staff is not familiar with it.
- Pro: Every lesson has a warm-up related to the main activities and a cool-down that can be used as an exit ticket. Con: workbooks (consumables) cost money but still beat the price of using school’s photocopy machine.
- Pro: Lesson plan every day has anticipated misconceptions. Curriculum was piloted or beta tested last year nationwide and revised with teacher user input and well received.
- Pro: Students will and have already learned more because of the organization of the lessons, the content, EL and RSP strategies.
- Pro: Every lesson has an “Are you ready for more?” aspect that is related to the activity but goes deeper, which would be helpful for GATE students.
At our last department meeting all grade level participants completed Unit 1 Lesson 1 from the 7th grade IM curriculum and teachers left energized by the math discourse facilitated with matching scaled copies of shapes on grid paper.
I love CPM, and have really enjoyed the IM lessons on relating addition and subtraction I taught this year to my 7th graders with their materials and the volume unit I taught last year to our 8th graders that allowed for more success.
Our principal and district will make a decision, but I think it’s obvious that the school would benefit from all 3 grade levels using the same curriculum that is rigorous, coherent, carefully sequenced, and heavily aligned to the Common Core standards.