Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative is partnering with the Chicago Public Schools Department of Math and Science to improve pre-k through fifth grade math education throughout the district.

“This is the only partnership in CPS that focuses on pre-k through fifth grade math,” says Jeanine Brownell, assistant director of programming for the Collaborative. “Math in the earliest grades is often forgotten, but it is incredibly important to building a foundation for later learning.”

Through the partnership, the Collaborative will provide training to 50 pre-k through fifth grade network math facilitators, focusing on increasing their knowledge and understanding of math content. Those same facilitators will then be trained to work with approximately 1,000 selected teacher leaders across district elementary schools to improve their mathematical competencies and achieve the content and practice standards of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics

Supported by the CME Group Foundation, the trainings mark the first phase of an initiative designed to prepare CPS teachers to achieve the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics.

Challenges in early math

Implementing the standards at the elementary level poses specific challenges because, unlike their middle and high school counterparts, elementary educators are responsible for all content and lack specialized training in math. They may often feel under-prepared and under-confident in their math teaching, and their schedules have less flexibility than in upper grades, limiting opportunities for teacher leaders to share what they are learning.

In addition to building content knowledge, the partnership hopes to encourage teacher leaders to share the knowledge and understanding they acquire from the training with colleagues in their schools.

The first trainings took place in October and November, with the next sessions to follow at the beginning of 2014.