North Carolina School Districts Turn to IM Certified Professional Learning to Help Teachers Address New Math Standards and Move to a Problem-Based Curriculum

The implementation of North Carolina’s new K–8 Mathematics Standards and the move to a problem-based approach in the classroom require a significant change in practice for many educators. To support meaningful shifts in instruction that improve student achievement and engagement, a growing number of North Carolina districts, including Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) and New Hanover County Schools (NHCS), are turning to Illustrative Mathematics (IM) Certified™ Professional Learning.

IM Certified Professional Learning is developed, certified, and continuously refined by the authors of the IM 6–8 Math curriculum. It is delivered by IM Certified Facilitators, highly qualified math educators who undergo a rigorous application and qualification process and attend intensive, ongoing trainings to gain mastery in delivering impactful professional learning. Through IM Certified Professional Learning, educators develop the skills and confidence to implement standards-aligned instruction, ensure curricular coherence within and across grade levels, facilitate meaningful mathematics discussions, and implement instructional routines that engage students and improve their learning.

In 2017–18, WCPSS, the state’s largest school system and 15th largest in the nation, piloted Open Up Resources 6–8 Math, authored by IM. This year, it is implementing the problem-based math curriculum in all 38 middle schools and providing IM Certified Professional Learning for all math teachers and staff members supporting mathematics instruction in grades 6–8.

“Moving to a problem-based approach is a major shift for many teachers, and it’s a huge cognitive leap for students as well,” said Brian Kingsley, assistant superintendent for academics for WCPSS. “We partnered with IM to help our teachers immerse our students in a comprehensive, standards-aligned curriculum and create learning experiences that have a deep level of rigor and engagement. Plus, going to the developers of the curriculum for our professional learning made a lot of sense from a quality assurance perspective. Through this partnership, we’re developing all of our students into mathematicians and helping them create healthy mindsets around mathematics.”

NCHS began piloting Open Up Resources 6–8 Math, authored by IM and IM Certified Professional Learning in five of its 10 middle schools in 2017–18. This year, it will add more teachers and another school to the pilot.

“We want our students to be problem solvers, not answer getters,” said Katie Martin, 6–12 mathematics lead teacher for NCHS. “IM Certified Professional Learning is tightly aligned with what we’re teaching, so it’s very timely. We find our teachers are now more confident about their instruction and have a better understanding of the connections between units and grade levels. They also love the instructional routines and are better at encouraging student discourse. As a result, our students are now better problem solvers, more engaged, and doing things they thought they’d never be able to do in math. We couldn’t have done any of this without implementing IM Certified Professional Learning.”

Click here to learn more about the Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math curriculum.

About Illustrative Mathematics

Illustrative Mathematics is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. We develop and deliver core mathematics curriculum along with deeply integrated professional learning experiences that ensure students receive engaging, high-quality mathematics instruction. Learn more at

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