College of Science and Health > Academics > STEM Studies > Research & Externally Funded Programs > Algebra Initiative

Algebra Initiative

DePaul logo 
UIC logo  
University of Chicago logo  
CPS logo 
In order to bring the number of 8th grade students in algebra to the national levels, CPS in collaboration with three local universities, has developed a program called the CPS Algebra Initiative. The Algebra Initiative is a collaborative effort of CPS and the following universities: DePaul University, University of Chicago (UC), and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Each institution will offer either a two- or three course sequence of algebra courses that involves algebra content as well as pedagogy in teaching algebra. Most courses will qualify for credit toward a mathematics endorsement. Over the last two decades, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has made tremendous strides toward increasing the number of students who take algebra in 8th grade.

The Chicago Public Schools’ Algebra Initiative course sequence prepares teachers in elementary and middle grade schools to offer algebra in the 8th grade to qualified students in their schools. Teachers successfully completing the program and passing the certification exam offered at the end of the course will be certified by the Chicago Public Schools to teach algebra in the eighth grade. The course sequence is also open to teachers in lower grades so that they can better prepare their students for algebra in the eighth grade.

The course sequence helps teachers achieve a high degree of mastery of first year high school algebra, well beyond the level they will be teaching in eighth grade. Each course emphasizes problem-solving, the connections of algebra to arithmetic and geometry, and the use of algebra in modeling real situations. Teachers examine common misconceptions beginning students have and become well-prepared to address them.

There is a common qualifying exam for teachers in the Algebra Initiative.  It is usually offered shortly after the course sequences conclude.
Students who complete the 8th-grade algebra course under the instruction of a teacher who has fulfilled the university coursework will be eligible to take a placement examination upon entering a CPS high school. The results of the placement examination will determine the appropriate high school math course.

If you are a middle school math endorsed CPS teacher who is interested in participating, contact David Jabon at

Mathematics Content

Number systems
Problem solving
Linear equations, functions, identities and inequalities
Systems of equations
Systems of inequalities
Functions in general
Quadratic equations and functions
Exponents and exponential functions
Arithmetic and geometric sequences

Pedagogical Content

Making sense of the mathematics
Using multiple representations
Formative assessment practices
Developing student agency