Initiative Overview

DePaul University’s Leading with Algebra (LWA) program engages middle and high school algebra teachers in collaboratively improving instructional practices aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). LWA provides in-person, teacher-to-teacher learning for Chicago Public School (CPS) algebra teachers and algebra resources that can be shared with teachers outside the program. LWA has made great strides in building CPS middle school teachers’ capacity to deliver impactful CCSSM algebra instruction to grade 8 students. Now they are expanding their blended-learning support to CPS high school teachers and teachers in California.

Strategies for Advancing Common Core

Teacher Leaders

LWA’s 150 algebra teacher leaders participate in face-to-face professional learning communities (PLCs) to deepen their CCSS-aligned instructional practices. With DePaul University and CPS math coaches, they plan and facilitate learning activities for their respective grade 8 and 9 peers in the two algebra PLCs. Learning activities in the PLCs involve examining resources and practicing strategies that support a CCSSM-aligned algebra classroom. In between quarterly PLCs, teacher leaders continue collegial collaboration and learning in the Virtual Community of Practice.

To support peers beyond LWA, teacher leaders disseminate digital resources for CCSSM-aligned instruction in algebra and encourage other CPS math teachers to participate in the Virtual Community of Practice for peer collaboration. They also host Twitter discussions and present at conferences to broaden LWA’s reach.

Teacher Leadership Capacity

Selected teacher leaders have opportunities to plan agendas and co-facilitate the quarterly, three-hour PLC sessions in a supportive learning environment alongside faculty from DePaul University and CPS staff. Other teacher leaders have the opportunity to serve on an advisory group that helps develop the Virtual Community of Practice’s online professional learning based on teacher needs and best practices of online collaboration.


In partnership with the Silicon Valley Math Initiative (SVMI), DePaul’s LWA plans to support SVMI and CPS math teachers’ exchange of strategies for using formative assessment tasks to improve teaching of diverse learners. LWA’s strong partnership with CPS supports ongoing outreach to algebra teachers throughout the district.

General Information

DePaul University
1 E. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604

Carolyn Narasimhan, Director, STEM Center

2013 – 2015 Initiative of DePaul University

Primary Grant Focus

The primary focus is to create a core group of Chicago Public School (CPS) teacher leaders who support the district’s 1,500 middle school mathematics teachers to implement algebra instructional shifts aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Strategies for Supporting Common Core Success

DePaul University has partnered with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to form a cadre of 150 middle school mathematics teachers who are district certified to teach high school-level algebra to eighth grade students and will serve as middle school algebra teacher leaders in the district.  This core of teacher leaders meets quarterly for in-person professional learning to deepen knowledge and practice in CCSS-aligned eighth grade algebra. Their overarching goal is to connect with all middle school mathematics teachers and provide instructional support in the Common Core instructional shifts in math, as well as to reach out to other middle school algebra teachers, who often feel professionally isolated as the only algebra teacher at their middle school sites. Each of the 150 teacher leaders serves as a point of contact for a small group of grades 6-8 math teachers in CPS to support them to plan and deliver algebra instruction to students in middle grades, make them aware of CCSS-aligned resources and tools on the Leading with Algebra and CPS Knowledge Center websites, reinforce district professional learning, and establish their own community of practice to address problems of practice and exchange stories of success.