Free, Openly Licensed Curriculum Receives Highest-Ever Score on EdReports' Rigorous Review

MENLO PARK, CA, January 24, 2018Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math, the first curriculum from nonprofit publisher Open Up Resources, has achieved an unprecedented review score from EdReports, the independent nonprofit that reviews K–12 curricula for standards alignment and quality. It is now the math curriculum with the highest rating from EdReports, as well as the first and only middle school math series to receive the highest designation by EdReports in all three review categories.

Developed through a partnership between Open Up Resources and Illustrative Mathematics, the nonprofit founded by lead standards author Bill McCallum, Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math is a problem-based curriculum that develops students’ mathematical reasoning skills and fosters discussion-filled classrooms.

Under EdReports’ extensive review process, a diverse group of highly trained educators met weekly to review and score the curriculum against detailed criteria for three categories:

  • Standards Alignment Focus & Coherence: Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards?

  • Standards Alignment Rigor & Mathematical Practices: Are all standards present and treated with the appropriate depth and quality required to support students?

  • Usability: On measures of classroom utility, how teacher- and student-friendly are the materials and how do they foster student growth?

After an extensive examination, the educator review team scored the curriculum at a perfect 14/14 for Focus & Coherence, a perfect 18/18 for Rigor & Mathematical Practices, and a near-perfect 37/38 for Usability in each grade level.

EdReports has previously reviewed 53 other curricula in the math category. Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math, with a comprehensive score of 69/70, is now EdReports’ most highly rated math curriculum. The middle school series with the next-highest review scored 61/70 in each grade and failed to attain a ‘Meets Expectations’ rating for Usability.

“I take great satisfaction seeing the results of our quality and alignment process,” said Open Up Resources CEO Larry Singer. “The Open Up Resources model is designed to produce curriculum of the very highest quality, and it should naturally follow that the materials score exceptionally well in review processes like EdReports. From our partnership with superb authors like Illustrative Mathematics to our extensive quality assurance against the most respected rubrics, we are very intentionally developing curriculum that raises the standard for the entire market.”

During its curriculum development process, Open Up Resources reviews each program against expert-developed instruments, including the EQuIP and IMET rubrics, as well as proprietary standards for English language learner supports. Curriculum authors integrate this feedback, as well as feedback from teachers using the curriculum in beta release, in the finalization of the materials.

Said lead author Bill McCallum of Illustrative Mathematics, "Our curriculum writing team of mathematicians and educators worked hard to produce a curriculum that follows a coherent progression, focuses on important mathematics, and engages students in sharing their reasoning. I couldn't be more proud of the work they have done."

As school districts become increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of standards alignment and overall quality of textbooks offered by the major publishers, EdReports offers a way for districts to quickly gauge quality against important metrics before making curriculum decisions.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this review is that EdReports’ top-rated math curriculum is now a free resource for schools and districts. Even after investing in the professional development and/or print materials available to support curriculum implementation, users of Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math still pay far less than they would for traditional textbooks; savings of 80% or more are typical.

Open Up Resources Illustrative Mathematics 6-8 Math, which was made available for free to districts as an Open Educational Resource (OER) just before the 2017-18 school year, has been adopted by hundreds of districts to date, including Sunnyside Unified School District (AZ), Buncombe County Schools (NC), Evergreen Public Schools (WA), and Tumwater School District (WA).

The curriculum was fine-tuned through a yearlong, 175-teacher beta release program. A survey of the teachers who used Open Up Resources Illustrative Mathematics 6-8 Math in its beta release showed that 90 percent found the curriculum highly effective or effective, and another 90 percent said that they would either recommend—or already had recommended—that their peers use the curriculum.

"This curriculum has been a game-changer for us, because it fosters active learning by our students," said David Parascand, Math Specialist in Tumwater School District (WA), a district that participated in the 2016-17 beta release of the curriculum then adopted it. "Students discuss the math they're learning every day, and because their thinking is really visible, teachers can give every student exactly the support they need.”

“In addition, the curriculum authors were extremely receptive to our team's feedback during the beta release. This appreciation of the needs of teachers likely translated into the high marks for Usability in this EdReports review," said Parascand.

With more than $14 million in support from philanthropies including the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Open Up Resources partners with expert content creators to make best-in-class OER curricula available to school districts everywhere. Illustrative Mathematics is currently authoring a high school curriculum for Open Up Resources. The nonprofit will soon release three more OER curricula for English Language Arts.

Districts interested in Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math can visit

To see the full EdReports Review, visit


Open Up Resources is a nonprofit that develops the highest quality K–12 curricula available and provides them to districts for free, as open educational resources, to promote instructional equity. Formerly the K–12 OER Collaborative, Open Up Resources partners with the country’s foremost materials experts to create superb instructional materials, then equips districts with the support they need to implement with fidelity. Its mission: to provide students with equal access to rigorous, standards-aligned materials, while easing adoption by districts.


Illustrative Mathematics is based on a mission of creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. Founded in 2011 at the University of Arizona, the organization has operated as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization since 2013. Illustrative Mathematics collaborates with and provides guidance to states, districts, curriculum writers, and assessment writers to help improve mathematics education.