Illustrative Mathematics

Kristin Umland
Meeting Materials

There is a clamor of activity inside districts and state departments of education as they gear up to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS); many well-intended people are working hard to “align” their materials to the CCSS. However, as the CCSS clearly states, “These standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business.” The Common Core State Standards are profoundly different from most state standards documents, but those differences are not always obvious to teachers, curriculum developers, assessment writers, teacher educators, or policy makers.

The goal of Illustrative Mathematics is to clarify the meaning and intent of the Common Core State Standards by publishing tasks and tools that support implementation of the CCSS. Illustrative Mathematics is a growing community of mathematics teachers, mathematics educators, and mathematicians that provides leadership and guidance by illustrating the mathematics that students should experience in a faithful implementation of the CCSS.

There are almost 500 published tasks linked to individual standards and clusters in the CCSS. The contributors to Illustrative Mathematics are building sets of tasks that, taken together, fully illustrate the intention, depth, breadth, meaning, and faithful implementation of the CCSS; our goal is to have 2,000 tasks in the next 2-3 years. While not every set will exhibit every characteristic, we want sets of tasks that illustrate a standard to lend themselves to teaching and learning as well as assessment, tasks that drill into the related knowledge and skills, and tasks that probe conceptual understanding. Our goal is that every task in the set has a specific purpose and reason for inclusion. Eventually, tasks will also be arranged into progressions across grades illustrating important streams and connections that define structures such as those described in the progressions documents.

Illustrative Mathematics is chaired by William McCallum, one of the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. We currently have over 6,500 registered users; over 200 have contributed directly to the development of tasks thorough writing, reviewing, or commenting on tasks. But Illustrative Mathematics is more than a place where people come to view and work on tasks. It is the meeting place of a growing, discerning community building professional norms and expertise in task analysis and refinement. And in the future, that work will grow to include all aspects of teaching and learning mathematics that support students in doing mathematical work.

For More Information
The public face of Illustrative Mathematics is a website: