The 2014 California Mathematics Adoption Process and CPM’s Approval

One independent verification that the CPM courses meet the CCSS standards and practices is California’s approval of Core Connections, Courses 1-3 (CC 1-3) and Algebra. The State of California conducted an adoption process for grades k-8 and algebra from January 2013 through January 2014. The California Department of Education (CDE) managed the process at the direction of the California State Board of Education (SBE) and the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC). The SBE approved a criteria map based on Jason Zimba's suggested review criteria.  (He is a lead author of CCSSM.) There were six main categories—content and practice standards alignment, overall organization of the program, the assessment resources, universal access for students, instructional planning resources, and support for teachers (including strategies for differentiation and acceleration)—with a total of 55 subparts.

The review panels for middle school consisted of six teachers and a university mathematician.  All of them had to apply to be reviewers and the CDE screened their credentials, then the SBE appointed those applicants who were recommended by the CDE with concurrence from the IQC.  The panels had a week of training in June 2013 where they were taken through each of the six categories to be sure that they understood them, and then they practiced reviewing curriculum materials using the evaluation instrument for the remainder of the week.

During the first week of July the reviewers received all of the alignment maps and copies of the student and teacher materials.  Each review panel had three programs (publishers) to review  during the next two-and-a-half months.  In mid-September they met with a Department of Education moderator for a week to deliberate whether the programs would be recommended to the State Board for adoption.

To begin the deliberations each 7-member panel took a quick "straw vote" for each program with no discussion for all 165 criteria (grades 6th-8th) to see where each program stood.  The members simply showed "thumbs up/down" to indicate whether, based on their individual reviews, they believed that each criteria was met.  The votes for the three CPM courses were almost all 7-0 "met," with a few 6-1 votes from a single reviewer.  Note that the first of the six criteria (with 12 subparts) involved meeting the content and practice standards.  The mathematician on the panel did not raise a single question about the content of the courses.

CPM thoroughly addressed all of the criteria, and with demonstrated strengths in all six categories (the standard applied by the review teams), the panel quickly approved CC 1-3 the next afternoon. The middle school panel probably spent less than two hours of their five days discussing the Core Connections, Courses 1-3 program. In fact, most of that time was devoted to the straw poll. The review of Core Connections Algebra I took about three hours. Most other publishers' materials were deliberated for at least three days, and several went well into the fourth day. 

Even though CPM was approved for adoption in California in January 2014, each school district in the state conducts its own review of programs when they adopt course materials.  This means that several dozen districts have also reviewed the above courses as well as the rest of the two high school pathways and, in most reviews, the CPM courses have made it to the final round of the adoptions, where more often than not, they have been adopted. In each school year, 2014-16, CPM sold tens of thousands of the middle school titles in California.  In particular, Los Angeles USD, the second largest district in the country, looked at the 11 adopted middle school programs in 2014, narrowed the list, and then approved CPM and two other programs for use in the District.  The high school series was also adopted by LAUSD in 2015 as one of the three approved programs. California districts have purchased tens of thousands of both the traditional and integrated pathway courses during the 2014-16 school years.