Project Overview


To understand the conditions under which teachers use high quality middle school math curricula and create learning environments in which all students can thrive.

Project Motivation

To explore whether high quality curricula, supported by high quality professional learning, produces better instructional experiences for students in their math classrooms.

Partners in Progress

  • The University of Delaware  
  • Teaching Lab
  • Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt
  • The Center for Curriculum Analysis 

Prepared For

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Examining how the rigor and cultural responsiveness of middle school math curricula, professional learning, and instruction can influence students’ classroom experiences.

Mathematica partnered with four school districts with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to examine: 

  • How professional learning helps teachers implement middle school math curricula and adapt them to their students’ needs.  
  • How and to what extent math teachers’ adaptations of curricula in the classroom promote culturally and linguistically responsive and rigorous math instruction.
  • How curricula, professional learning, and different instructional practices influence middle school students’ academic performance and non-academic outcomes such as their math enjoyment, growth mindset, and math identity.
  • How different instructional contexts produce positive math classroom experiences for students, with a particular focus on those who are Black, Latino, multilingual learners, or experiencing poverty.
  • How six middle school mathematics curricula vary along dimensions of quality, five of which were rated by EdReports.

Preliminarily, we have examined the efficacy of two middle school math curricula in one district on student performance outcomes, and found few differences. We have also examined the cultural responsiveness of the six math curricula included in the study and found that they provide teachers with very limited content or guidance to employ culturally responsive pedagogical strategies.

Related Staff

Amy  Johnson

Amy Johnson

Senior Fellow

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Lauren Amos

Lauren Amos

Principal Researcher

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Kristin Hallgren

Kristin Hallgren

Director of Foundation and Nonprofit Partnerships, Education and Employment Division

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Francesca Venezia

Francesca Venezia


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Barbara Harris

Barbara Harris

Senior Researcher

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Riley  Stone

Riley Stone

Advisory Services Analyst

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