Research Briefs for Mathematics Education

Research Brief Proposals:  Research on Supporting Struggling Mathematics Learners at the Secondary Level

CPM Educational Program invites members of the mathematics education research community to submit proposals for a research brief that will summarize the current state of the field’s understanding of how best to support struggling mathematics learners, students who are behind or are falling behind grade level in mathematics.  CPM Educational Program is a California nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to improving grades 6-12 mathematics curriculum and instruction. Research brief proposals invites mathematics education doctoral students and faculty with relevant expertise to submit proposals for a commissioned white paper that will be published on CPM’s website and circulated across the mathematics education community.

Submission of proposals are now closed.  Questions should be directed to

Tom Sallee's Synthesis of research that supports the principles of the CPM Educational Program

This research synthesis comes in two parts. The first part is for a general audience—people who want an introduction to how CPM was developed and a brief discussion of the reasons for the choices we made. The second part contains specific references to the educational literature for the involved teacher, administrator or parent.

Overview. The writer-developers of CPM began with the belief that the primary goal of teaching mathematics should be long-term knowledge. If learning does not persist past the end of the chapter or the end of the year, in what sense has the student learned anything useful? So the question became, what are the most effective ways to foster long term learning? Ultimately, the program was built around three fundamental principles informed by both theory and practice.

1. Initial learning of a concept is best supported by discussions within cooperative learning groups guided by a knowledgeable teacher.

2. Integration of knowledge is best supported by engagement of the learner with a wide array of problems around a core idea.

3. Long-term retention and transfer of knowledge is best supported by spaced practice or spiraling.

These principles derived from research provided a philosophy of how children learn and how teaching should occur in an ideal classroom. Then books were written to make this philosophy concrete and teachers were provided support so that they could use the books effectively.