“[There has been] significant change in the quality of time spent in collaboration. The conversations used to be about which lesson from the text to do on which day. Now these conversations focus on what students said during the previous lesson and how that will help them as they look forward in planning. Formative assessment data is discussed and very specific plans in responding to the data are drawn up.”
– (Administrator, Administrator Survey Brief 030213, page 24).

“Math has become a central focus much like reading in our school. Teachers feel more confident in their abilities to teach math and our classroom instruction has improved because of the coaching and ongoing support they have received.”
– (Administrator, Y5 TL & Admin survey report, page 62).

“I’m seeing a transformation in the way that teachers think about math when I observe them… With the students, there’s more communication about math. There’s not one way to approach it. There’s less emphasis on the computation and formulaic end of math. And more about the application and problem-solving, how can you apply things that you’ve learned to new situations… and definitely more students are collaborating and working together too.”
– (District 555 Case Study, page 13).

What is the Suburban Cook County Mathematics Initiative?


The Suburban Cook County Mathematics Initiative (SCCMI) was established to improve mathematics teaching and learning in grades six through nine. Thirty-two school districts collaborated in two “sister” mathematics improvement initiatives (South Cook Mathematics Initiative and West Cook Mathematics Initiative) from 2010 through 2016, with support from the University of Illinois at Chicago and in partnership with the West 40 and South Cook Intermediate Service Centers and funding from the Searle Funds at . The districts served a high percentage of low-income students, had common needs around mathematics teaching and learning, and shared a commitment to comprehensive mathematics improvement. The collaboration was a result of early discussions designed to surface common areas of need and possible interventions.

SCCMI was designed with three major foci:

  • Building the capacity of districts and schools to support mathematics improvement efforts and to address the needs of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M);
  • Supporting teachers in implementing high quality mathematics instruction that is aligned with the expectations of the CCSS-M; and
  • Promoting cross-school and cross-district collaboration providing opportunities for every school and district to leverage the shared expertise and to avoid duplication of efforts.

Comprehensive, high-quality supports organized around a few big ideas led to significant changes in mathematics in many districts. These included:

  • Changes in structures and policies;
  • Enhanced collaboration both within and across districts;
  • More and better professional development opportunities for administrators and teachers;
  • Increased implementation of high-quality instructional materials for mathematics; and
  • Classrooms with greater student engagement, lessons with high cognitive demand, more purposeful talk among students and more positive and student-centered environments.

For additional information about SCCMI, please see the following papers (coming soon):



By engaging all stakeholders; helping develop a common vision; and building teacher capacity, informed instructional leadership, and productive collaboration; we’ve helped districts improve student learning since 2010. We invite you to work together with us.

Participants in SCCMI provided their perspectives on the professional development and supports in the project. [LINK TO VIDEO coming soon.]