The Three Pillars

Site Development

At the heart of the Algebra Project is site development. Working on the ground, inside middle and high school classrooms is how the organization first began when founder Bob Moses taught algebra to his middle school daughter and her classmates. His observation of how students spoke, understood ideas, and made sense of mathematics was the first, informal research into how one can fundamentally restructure math classrooms.

His time inside public school classrooms further shed light on who was and who wasn’t being given access to mathematics. Drawing from his own extensive activism experience within the Civil Rights Movement, he used the same Movement sensibilities to engage community members around building opportunities where all students could participate in advanced mathematics.

Today, our site development revolves around the extensive research & development of instructional materials which we bring into schools. With school and community members, we organize design teams that shape program implementation. The Five-Step Curricular Process, which is the center of our teacher professional development, is aimed at enhancing both the mathematical knowledge of teachers and their instructional practice.

Current Schools

  • Englewood Public School District, Englewood, NJ

  • Confluence Academies, St. Louis, MO

  • Cambridge Public School District, Cambridge, MA

Historically, we’ve collaborated with school communities in the following states:

Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin

Research

At the Algebra Project, we understand the critical role research plays in raising the floor of math literacy. A rigorous research agenda has been a cornerstone of our work since our inception in the 1980s. Our dedication to research and evaluation has been instrumental in our contribution to shaping the landscape of math education, raising the floor of math literacy for students and educators alike. By actively engaging in research, we ensure that the materials and resources we bring into school districts are informed by the latest pedagogical insights and evidence-based practices. This commitment also extends to our professional development efforts, where we empower teachers with the knowledge and tools they need to inspire a love for mathematics in their students. For us, research is a driving force that underpins our mission to make math education accessible, engaging, and transformative for all.

Current Research Projects

The Accessible Calculus Project: Advancing Equity by Democratizing Access to Advanced Mathematics

(September, 2023 – September, 2026)

Recipient: The Algebra Project, Inc., Kennesaw State University Research and Service Foundation, Inc., National Society of Black Engineers

PI: William Crombie (the Algebra Project)

Co-PI: Brian R. Lawler, Roneisha Worthy, Alan Shaw, Rochelle Williams

This three-year research collaboration between the Algebra Project, the Center for Innovation in STEM Education Research at Kennesaw State University, and the National Society of Black Engineers aims to transform mathematics education by designing and implementing a standards-aligned Algebra II curriculum based on the Polynomial Calculus and Five-Step Curricular Process of the Algebra Project, introducing calculus concepts within the high school Algebra II context. The project seeks to enhance quantitative literacy for all students, increase the pool of Calculus-ready and STEM-ready students, and promote racial equity in STEM education by fostering a culturally responsive and participatory approach, with a focus on developing students’ voices, agency, and positive identities in mathematics. Funded through the NSF’s Racial Equity in STEM Education program, this initiative aligns with NSF’s commitment to diversity and innovative research in STEM education.

Investigating the Role of Collaboration on the Development of Student Ideas using a Learning Progression for the Function Concept

(April, 2021 – August 2025)

Recipient: Educational Testing Service

PI: Edith Aurora Graf (ETS)

Co-PI: William Crombie (the Algebra Project), Charlenne DeLeon, Cheryl Lizano, Yvonne Lai

This pioneering research initiative investigates the interplay between collaborative problem-solving, learning progressions, and facilitation to enhance students’ mathematical learning, with a focus on equitable access, online collaborative platforms, and the development of valuable resources for teachers, contributing to the broader goals of the NSF’s DRK-12 program.

Supporting computational thinking for middle school mathematics students through diagrammatic reasoning and representational logic

(August, 2020 – December, 2024)

Recipient: Kennesaw State University Research and Service Foundation, Inc.

PI: Alan Shaw (KSU)

Co-PI: Sarah North, Brian R. Lawler, Deepa Muralidhar

Consulting: William Crombie (the Algebra Project)

This research project aims to enhance the learning of computational thinking among predominantly African American and Hispanic middle school students by integrating a computational environment into the successful Algebra Project curriculum, fostering collaborative, visual reasoning, and spatial logic skills through the use of a Python-based microworld, and assessing the impact on students’ conceptual understanding, engagement, and the development of core elements of computational thinking in mathematical analyses. The study builds upon prior work, expanding its scope and incorporating enactive-iconic representations to deepen students’ understanding of mathematical concepts, ultimately contributing to the broader goals of the CS for All: Research and RPPs program.

Professional Development

Teachers are community linchpins who interface with students more than anybody else in their learning environments. They bring to the table a deep understanding of their community, their students, and what works in their classrooms. Empowering teachers and giving them the resources they need to succeed is, by far, the most effective way to create lasting change in school communities.

At the Algebra Project, we’re dedicated to empowering teachers through dynamic professional development activities. Our workshops, summer institutes, and classroom support initiatives are designed to achieve several key objectives. First and foremost, we focus on enhancing teachers’ mathematical content knowledge, providing a solid foundation for effective instruction. We also work to broaden instructional practices, encouraging diverse and engaging teaching methods. Through experientially-based curriculum modules developed by the Algebra Project, educators learn to create meaningful learning experiences for their students. Our goal is to be a support for teachers to more effectively implement their district’s standards and curriculum, to facilitate student-centered discussions – fostering a classroom culture where students are actively engaged, capable of independent and cooperative work. We mean to cultivate an environment where teachers can collaborate and co-design solutions together with our support, which increases effectiveness and builds capacity. When the people with the problem are designing solutions together, their burden is lightened and the solutions implemented are more effective.

Additionally, we are actively developing a Professional Development for Professional Developers (PDPD) program, in collaboration with the Bob Moses Research Center at Florida International University, to institutionalize our PD knowledge and create specialists who can make a lasting impact in classrooms. Our dedicated Algebra Project Professional Development Specialists play a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of mathematics teachers across the educational landscape. Those who become AP PD Specialists are often lead teachers and math coaches who do the training to assist in increasing their own expertise but also to return to their communities and support the instructional practice of their colleagues.