How to Choose the Best Core Math Program

Tips for Your Next Adoption

Choosing your next core math program is a big decision that impacts students, educators, and families. Let’s look at steps educators can take to make the best choice for mathematics instruction success.

Supporting Your District Goals

  1. Create a roadmap for the selection process:
    • Reflect on prior mathematics curriculum searches and implementations. What went well? What didn’t?
    • What are your district’s curriculum adoption procedures?
    • Who will be on your committee, and how will you communicate?
    • How will the final decision be made?

  2. Review your district’s math philosophy for a shared understanding of what learning math should look and feel like in your classrooms:
    • Does your pedagogy favor direct instruction or student-led, exploratory learning?
    • How do you incorporate NCTM’s Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices, like establishing goals, facilitating discourse with purposeful questions, building fluency from conceptual understanding, and supporting productive struggle?
    • What specific outcomes are you aiming to achieve? How do these help students develop the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMPs), such as looking for structure, strategically choosing tools for problem solving, and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning?

  3. Define your district-specific criteria:
    • What are the local standards and initiatives the program should support?
    • Should the program integrate with your other teaching materials?

Supporting Your Teachers

A great math program provides teachers with the fundamental materials and support for every lesson:

  • Does the program make it easy to find instructional materials? Are they accessible on one platform, so teachers can focus on teaching rather than searching?
  • Are scaffolds included for students who need them? Does the program help you meet the needs of every learner?
  • Is there a lot of content for teachers to sort through that they don’t actually need?
  • Do the teaching strategies reflect your district’s mathematical pedagogy? For example, does the program develop math practices authentically through problem solving and discussion?
  • How does the program incorporate technology? Is it user friendly for teachers and students?
  • Does it include a valid and reliable diagnostic so it’s clear what students can do and where they need support?
  • What in-program learning supports, like learning progressions and pacing resources, as well as ongoing professional learning, will teachers receive?

Watch the video below to learn more about this philosophy at work in our core math program, i-Ready Classroom Mathematics.

Supporting Your Students

Any learning program is ultimately all about the students. From addressing prerequisite math skills all the way to the learning that helps them fall in love with math, your curriculum choice should provide every student with access to grade-level learning:

  • Does the program support English Learners so all students can engage with the language of mathematics?
  • Does it have formal and informal avenues for ongoing assessment to ensure the right learning is delivered at the right time?
  • Do the Hands-On Activities engage students and inspire them to own their learning?
  • Does it encourage math discourse to help students talk through problems and concepts?
  • Do the lessons incorporate prior knowledge so students can make connections to new facts and concepts?

To see how a lesson can incorporate inquiry, discourse, and connection to pave the way for new skills and understanding, check out the Try–Discuss–Connect instructional framework video from i-Ready Classroom Mathematics below.

Evaluating and Selecting the Program

Now that you know what the district needs and how the program must support your teachers and students, it’s time to evaluate your options and make your choice:

  • Read independent third-party reviews, like the one by EdReports, to help assess whether the program meets the expectations of the standards and has received high scores in usability.
  • When speaking with the publishers of the math programs you are considering, be sure to ask the tough questions. Discuss the research behind the program, and clarify what service and support they will provide throughout the life of your adoption.
  • Are there districts similar to yours that use the program? What are their experiences with the materials? Do they have feedback on implementation, onboarding, and professional learning support?

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the home stretch! You’re ready to identify the math curriculum that is the best fit for your district.

Getting Buy-In

Cohesive implementation by the entire staff is crucial to the success of any program. As you introduce the new program in your schools, monitor your learning community and ask yourself:

  • Are all teachers on board and well trained with the new materials and pedagogy?
  • Are they receiving high-quality professional learning?
  • Are they comfortable navigating their new resources?
  • What feedback are you hearing from parents/caregivers, school board members, and others in your learning community?

Most of all, is the program making educators’ lives easier while increasing test scores and building proficiency in math skills for every student?

Good luck with your search! Please let us know if we can be of any assistance.

We wish you, your teachers, and your students many unforgettable “aha!” math moments that lay the foundation for deep comprehension and a lifetime of mathematics success.

Our Core Math Curriculum

i-Ready Classroom Mathematics

This Grades K–8 core curriculum for math checks all the boxes. It encourages students to take ownership of learning, sparks meaningful discourse, and connects formative data in a way that helps teachers differentiate instruction according to each student's learning needs.


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