Celebrating 35 Years of Service to the Mathematics Education Community

Celebrating 35 Years: Rice University School Mathematics Project

For 35 years, the Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP) has advised schools and districts in best practices and helped teachers improve the way mathematics is taught. This has translated into millions of students who are better prepared for jobs that require problem-solving and technical skills.

RUSMP was established in 1987 with a grant from the National Science Foundation to provide a bridge between the Rice mathematics research community and Houston-area mathematics teachers. To accomplish this goal, RUSMP has developed extensive activities for teachers and administrators, including longterm professional development and coaching support, full-day workshops, and opportunities for networking across schools and districts.

The RUSMP team consists of award-winning educators and researchers who are recognized leaders, compassionate collaborators and brilliant problemsolvers. RUSMP has been successful, in part, because the professional staff knows what teachers face.

“We all have our roots in K–12 education,” said Carolyn White, RUSMP’s director of mathematics programs.

“We have all been successful teachers, and we know schools from the inside. Our goal is to make sure good mathematics instruction is taking place in every classroom and that teachers are happy and well-equipped to do their jobs effectively.”

Some of the tangible, measurable effects on K–12 mathematics education across Texas include:

• RUSMP has reached directly more than 14,000 students in K–12 and 10,000 teachers and teacher leaders from over 100 districts and private and charter schools across Texas.It has impacted over 3 million students, and its ripples are also felt across the country.

• Students who have been taught by teachers in the RUSMP program perform significantly better, in general, on standardized tests than comparable students whose teachers have not participated in RUSMP programs.

• The RUSMP team has published over 100 research papers, produced more than 110 evaluation reports, and presented research related to mathematics and STEM education at more than 115 international or national conferences.

• The National Staff Development Council in 2002 cited RUSMP as one of the top four professional development programs in mathematics in the country for its impact on student achievement in the elementary grades, within the top seven for middle grades, and as the top professional development program in mathematics for high school grades.

Additionally, RUSMP continues to respond to the ever-changing needs of the educational community through its innovative programs. In 2017, RUSMP introduced summer math camps and programs for K–12 students. These programs were designed and taught by RUSMP directors and master teachers.

Elementary-age students explored math concepts by collaborating with new friends in fun and engaging hands-on activities, integrating science, engineering and the arts. The students enjoyed learning concepts not often addressed in the school mathematics curriculum.

“Having students learn and actually like math is a daunting challenge that not everyone can achieve,” a parent said. “RUSMP did just that successfully.”

One teacher added, “I love seeing our students light up as they work together to learn new things and be challenged with higher-level math concepts.”

Students entering middle school tackled problems to develop their computational thinking and mathematical problem-solving skills. High school students were provided opportunities to explore advanced math topics and their applications using graphing and computer technologies.

One student said, “In only three weeks, not only did my math techniques improve significantly, but I also gained a much better appreciation for advanced math, and in particular, calculus.”

COVID-19 created unique challenges for students and their teachers. Learning gaps arose through no fault of students or teachers. In response to many teachers and parents urgently requesting help, RUSMP worked to provide resources that were online, which was extremely important, especially with children at home during school closures.

For the past three and half decades, RUSMP continues to engage and empower Houston communities as well as to elevate research achievement.

— Anne Papakonstantinou
Rice University School
Mathematics Project


A quarterly newsletter that showcases the university’s outreach programs. Each issue of the newsletter includes a series of stories that raise the awareness of Rice’s engagement with the city and beyond.