The Philadelphia Success Story

Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project

MARCH 31, 2001

PHILADELPHIA - Five years of student achievement data on the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP), a National Science Foundation sponsored high school reform curriculum is now available in an online report entitled, "Assessing the Cost/Benefits of an NSF Standards Based Secondary Mathematics Curriculum on Student Achievement - Part 1."

In 1993, Philadelphia was one of three pilot sites for the implementation of IMP, an innovative NCTM standards-based high school curriculum developed over an eight year period by a team of mathematicians, math educators and practicing teachers with support from the National Science Foundation.

The Philadelphia achievement data spans from the beginning of the first pilot year in 1993 to the end of 1998. The data includes a variety of measures comparing IMP to traditionally taught students who used non-standards based texts. The measures include data on: student attitudes, PSAT scores, passing rates, attendance rates, Stanford Achievement Test-9th edition scores, and a college exit math exam. See "Student Achievement Measures."

A variety of achievement measures were used because no one measure can address of all the possible methodological issues in comparing a reform curriculum to a traditional one. See "Questions About Impact and Attribution."

The research results are summarized at "Philadelphia IMP Research Summary."

These results show IMP is associated with higher student achievement levels regardless of the initial ability level of the student as compared to their traditionally taught peers. That is, high achieving IMP students do better than their high achieving traditionally taught peers, while students with weak math skills do better than their traditionally taught counterparts.

The Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project, a NSF "local systemic change" project, provides intensive professional development to teachers before implementation of IMP. Its project director, F. Joseph Merlino cautions that the mere adoption of IMP textbooks is insufficient for success.

"Teachers working with students is still at the heart of the learning process. Intensive and sustained professional development, follow-up classroom support of teachers and strong, clear administrative leadership are essential for the success of IMP, or any program for that matter. We have high implementation standards. Teachers should receive a minimum of 240 hours of training over four years and have in-classroom mentors and opportunity for collegial dialogue. IMP involves difficult mathematics, particularly in Years 3 and 4, as well as different pedagogical techniques."

See "Implementation Standards."

IMP is being used in hundreds of suburban, rural and urban high schools throughout the country. One of these high schools include Strath Haven High which scored first in Pennsylvania for comprehensive high schools, and second overall, in the April 2000 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)- a high stakes, state mandated test for 11th graders.

See and

Other links:

  • Interactive Mathematics Program
  • National Science Foundation
  • Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project

For more information contact:
F. Joseph Merlino
Project Director
The Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project
La Salle University, Box 399
Philadelphia, Pa 19141
[email protected]
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