Christian R. Hirsch

  • 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

    Christian R. Hirsch

    Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Chris Hirsch has exhibited a personal commitment to mathematics education and is widely recognized as a distinguished leader in the field. For more than three decades, the mathematics education community has witnessed his dedication and focus on the improvement of secondary school mathematics, as well as the energy, expertise, commitment, persistence, and integrity that he has brought to his work.

    Hirsch was the driving force behind the Core-Plus Mathematics Project (CPMP), which, with support from the National Science Foundation, developed a research-based high school curriculum organized around mathematical strands of algebra and functions, statistics and probability, geometry and trigonometry, and discrete mathematics. This integrated curriculum was the first such curriculum to have a significant impact on national adoptions, and over a period of more than 20 years, it has moved to second and subsequent editions, including a new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) edition.

    "His strong intellectual and managerial leadership of CPMP and his engagement with other like-minded professionals have been strong factors in shaping current U.S. curriculum practice," said one nominator. "With the instructional principles and materials demonstrated in Core-Plus Mathematics, many school systems across the country have transformed their high school mathematics to approaches that are more consistent with international standards of practice." 

    Hirsch joined the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) as a high school mathematics teacher and has been actively involved as a member for more than 40 years. His contributions to the mission of the Council have been extensive and far-reaching. Hirsch has served on the NCTM Board of Directors; was a member of the first Commission on Standards for School Mathematics; and chaired the grades 9-12 working group for the Council's influential Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, published in 1989. Hirsch was also editor of the 1985 Yearbook and the Addenda Series for grades 9-12 and was general editor of the 1990-1992 Yearbooks. Hirsch edited several additional NCTM publications and wrote numerous articles appearing in the NCTM journals and those of other professional organizations. He served as a referee for both research and professional practice journals within and outside NCTM, chaired the NCTM review group for College Board Standards for Success in College Mathematics and Statistics, and was both a member and chair of the Education Materials Committee. 

    Most recently, in his capacity as chair of the NCTM Core Tools Task Force, Hirsch was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to repurpose the mathematical and statistical software tools developed by the Core-Plus Mathematics Project so that they could be used with any secondary school mathematics program. The repurposed software, Core Math Tools, is now freely available to teachers and students online or as a download on NCTM's website. 

    Hirsch has been instrumental in shaping and disseminating NCTM's standards initiative in mathematics education. "Dr. Hirsch's contribution to this new vision has, on its own, motivated and informed the slow but steady transformation of high school math classrooms toward a more inclusive, effective, and relevant learning environment," commented another nominator about Hirsch's role in producing the Council's landmark Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. "But Dr. Hirsch understood that bold statements of new standards, no matter how vividly they were drawn on paper, could not transform instruction on their own. He went on, over the next 30 years, to work with the K-12 and higher education communities to make accessible this transformed vision of teaching and learning." 

    Hirsch's impact has been recognized and acclaimed at Western Michigan University, where he has been named a Distinguished Faculty Scholar and James H. Powell Professor of Mathematics, and more broadly, in the state of Michigan and the nation, and on the international scene.