Is your child part of a pilot? Are Illustrative Math alpha or beta pilots in your elementary classroom?

May 3, 2020 by

Cheri Kiesecker –

You will recall that MEW recently wrote about a parent being sued by a math curriculum company- MVP Math-whose partner, Open Up Resources, is very well funded. (We’re talking HP and Bill Gates funded.)  We are happy to report that the math company dropped the lawsuit against the parent, as seen in this October 29, 2019 statement on the parent’s GoFundMe page.  However, from our previous MEW post, we reported that Open Up Resources partners with another math curriculum company, Illustrative Math.  (MEW also  wrote about Illustrative Math in 2012.)

According to OpenUp Resources’ 2017 IRS 990, their highest paid contractor (page 8, almost $2 million)– is ILLUSTRATIVE MATH .

Illustrative Math has been posting on Social Media about needing elementary teachers to do math pilots.



These elementary school math pilots raise several questions:

  • Are parents told that their child will be part of a math pilot? 
  • Can parents see the entire math curriculum to be piloted, and decide if this experiment is right for their child? Parents should know that under a federal law, PPRA, parents have the right to inspect curriculum.  See page 5 of this US Dept of Ed Guidance… “The right of parents to inspect, upon request, any instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum for students, and the procedure for granting a request by a parent for such access
  • Can parents opt their child out of this math pilot?
  • What grades are being piloted? Several blogs mention preschool-2nd grade (PK-2 IM).
  • What is the difference between an alpha pilot or beta pilot and what does that look like in a young child’s classroom? (According to this post, “Alpha testing is a type of acceptance testing; performed to identify all possible issues/bugs before releasing the product to everyday users or the public.” Is Illustrative Math alpha testing and ‘working out the bugs’ on real children?)
  • Which schools are piloting Illustrative Math?
  • Are teachers or school districts paid to be alpha or beta testers?

For example, is the alpha teacher in this November 2, 2019 Illustrative Math Blog (also posted on Facebook above) paid to alpha pilot Illustrative Math? Is she paid to promote Illustrative Math on their blog or on Social Media?  How about this alpha pilot teacher, also posted above?  Would these teachers be considered a Brand Ambassador or Social Media Influencer for Illustrative Math?  Recent FTC guidance says teachers who work with brands to recommend or endorse products must disclose this relationship and any compensation.

more here:
FTC Warns Teachers to Disclose Ties to Ed-Tech Vendors

What is Illustrative Math? And what is the curriculum in these elementary pilots?

The IM Curriculum page,  as far as we can see does not link to actual PK or k-5 curriculum.     Just very curious.  Maybe Illustrative Math can post the elementary curriculum they are piloting and also post how they inform parents and obtain consent for these pilots?  Thanks!

For now, here are some excerpts from the Illustrative Math Curriculum page:

“IM Math is a problem-based core curriculum designed to address content and practice standards to foster learning for all. Students learn by doing math, solving problems in mathematical and real-world contexts, and constructing arguments using precise language. Teachers can shift their instruction and facilitate student learning with high-leverage routines to guide learners to understand and make connections between concepts and procedures.

Fully Aligned to College and Career-Ready Standards

Fulfilling standards to prepare students for success with mathematics

Designed under the leadership of one of the Common Core chief authors, all IM curricula are fully aligned to the rigor and coherence of the standards. Our goal is to provide students the skills they need to know, use, and enjoy mathematics.

Open Educational Resource and Delivery Options

Multiple formats and platforms available for flexibility and accessibility

IM Certified Partners provide access to IM Certified curricula through a freely available option as well as through for-fee print and digital platforms.

The Evolution of IM Curricula

Open Up Resources 6–8 Math 2.0 was authored by Illustrative Mathematics.  Illustrative Mathematics, authored, reviewed and approved all of the content contained in Open Up Resources 6-8 Math 2.0.  OUR 6–8 Math 2.0 is a high-quality curriculum, and Illustrative Mathematics is proud of its collaboration with Open Up Resources, which brought one of the first full-course OER middle school math curriculum to students and teachers across the country.  Please contact OUR for more information about their version of an IM-authored curriculum.”

Source: Is your child part of a pilot? Are Illustrative Math alpha or beta pilots in your elementary classroom? – Missouri Education Watchdog

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