Reviews of CPM Math: College Preparatory Mathematics

Basic Information and Introduction

The College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) curriculum is developed and published by CPM Educational Program, Sacramento, CA. The principal authors are Judith Kysh, Tom Sallee, and Brian Hoey. The CPM web site is

The curriculum has a middle school and a high school component. The middle school texts, which would most likely be used in 7th and 8th grade, are

The high school texts are

Critical Reviews and Commentaries

CPM Algebra 1 Content Review. The CPM Algebra 1 program was submitted to the California Content Review Panel for statewide adoption in 2001, but this submission was withdrawn. Professor Wayne Bishop, a member of the 1999 and 2001 Content Review Panels, performed an unofficial evaluation of the Algebra 1 program. His conclusion: "[M]ost of the program is below the specified standards level and there is too much of an assumption that work will be done in teams. Although the publisher claims that all standards are met, several are clearly not met and several more identified herein as met are, in fact, not adequately met. Finally, there is a systemic misconception as to what is meant by logical argument in mathematics. If a statement looks to be true, students are told to put it into their "Tool Kit", then to be available in all settings of study and assessment thereafter."

Math Problems: Why the U.S. Department of Education's recommended math programs don't add up, by David Klein (ASBJ, Apr 2000). About CPM Prof. Klein writes: "[...] The principal technique in this series is the so-called guess and check method, which encourages repeated guessing of answers over the systematic development of standard mathematical techniques. Because of the availability of calculators that can solve equations, the introduction to the series explains that CPM puts low emphasis on symbol manipulation and that CPM differs from traditional mathematics courses both in the mathematics that is taught and how it is taught. In one section, students watch a candle burn down for an hour while measuring its length versus the time and then plotting the results. In a related activity, students spend a whole class period on the athletic field making human coordinate graphs. These activities are typical of the time sacrificed to simple ideas that can be understood more efficiently through direct explanation. But in CPM, direct instruction is systematically discouraged in favor of group work."

Open Letter to Richard Riley. CPM was one of the programs designated "Exemplary" by the United States Department of Education in 1999. The designation of this and several other "fuzzy math" programs as Promising or Exemplary gave rise to this open letter that was endorsed by over 200 professional mathematicians and scientists.

CPM Miscellaneous Links at Mathematically Correct.

CPM Miscellaneous Links at TeachMath.Net.

This page is part of a collection of links to reviews of and commentaries on K-12 mathematics curricula and standards that is maintained by Bas Braams, Elizabeth Carson, and NYC HOLD. This ring of pages includes: TERC Investigations - Everyday Mathematics - Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) - Concepts and Skills - Structure and Method - College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) - Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) - Mathematics, Modelling our World (MMOW) - CPMP Contemporary Mathematics in Context - Saxon Math - NCTM Standards