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Center for Urban Education

School of Education

Center for Urban Education


The Center for Urban Education (CUE) aims to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and scholarship and community outreach in the field of urban education. CUE focuses all its activities – research, outreach, and teacher education programs – on issues critical to education, in urban environments. The goal of the Center is to develop a comprehensive, research-based, and, at the same time community-focused platform to improve the teaching and learning for all children in urban communities. We aim to provide a focus and support for sustained investigation of issues in education in urban areas. The Center is a place where fundamental problems in urban education are studied, discussed and analyzed through research, outreach to schools, as well as (in the longer run) through colloquium series and meetings.


The City College of New York has historically had the mission of access and excellence for "the children of the whole people" of the City of New York. Situated in one of the largest and most diverse urban communities in the nation and the world, the College as a whole, and the School of Education, in particular, are immersed in challenges and opportunities presented by this City and its people. The School of Education, in particular, has at the core of its mission to "prepare educators to support students of our diverse citizenry to meet the challenges of the 21st century and be active participants in our democracy". Arguably, attaining equity and democratizing access to higher education for urban students involves access to quality K-12 education. Strengthening CCNY's presence in the public K-12 education of the City of New York is central to achieving its mission.

Upcoming Events


The goal of the Center is to operate as a platform for studies that, over the years will help enact its research agenda. This agenda will be to develop a comprehensive, research-based framework that describes how success in mathematics can be achieved for all children in urban communities. Factors for success will be sought in three areas: (1) urban children's mathematical learning and development; (2) urban teachers' mathematical learning, development, beliefs, and expectations; and (3) urban community interactions with and influences on children, teachers, and schools. In each area, we will (a) characterize, describe, and document the critical variables that promote mathematical achievement, and (b) identify and develop community- and school-based resources and opportunities that contribute to children's success.
This goal will build on the Center's faculty strengths in mathematics, mathematics education, sociology of urban education, and special education. Each discipline will provide a "lens" through which to view the complex interactions characterizing urban mathematics education, and the interfaces among them providing fertile ground for new ideas and insights. The Center will bring together an expert, committed community of scholars and practitioners, working together to understand and address the difficult problems of mathematics education in urban environments, finding and implementing strategies that will lead to urban students' success in mathematics.
While the main focus and strength of the center will be on mathematics, the center will seek targeted collaborations for inter-disciplinary scholarship on urban education. We recognize that mathematics teaching and learning do not exist in the vacuum, particularly in an urban environment. Sociological, economical, health, anthropological, and urban policy factors, to name a few disciplines, are interweaved in schooling. We find it fruitful to form interdisciplinary collaborations and borrow lenses from these related disciplines to explore questions in urban mathematics education.


  • Proof Project
    The Proof Project investigates the development of students' understanding of proof during the undergraduate experience. Proof, arguably, lies at the heart of mathematics; it pervades all mathematical work and sets mathematics apart from all other sciences. As such, it is necessary for all students to develop both the understanding of concepts related to proof and the skills to read and write proofs. The Proof Project aims to examine the ways in which undergraduate students acquire and develop their understandings of the concept of proof and to provide suggestions for the types of curricular and pedagogical innovations that can make the mathematics of proof accessible to all students.
  • Urban Math Project
    The Urban Math project is aiming to address the development of mathematical practices in urban middle school classrooms. Over the next five years this study will trace the development of middle school students' competencies in the mathematical practices of representation and justification and will identify conditions that influence that development. We first begin with a broad analysis of a large number of urban students' conceptions of mathematical practices. This will be followed by a focused and detailed analysis of the development of 6th to 8th grade students, using a variety of instruments and classroom observations. The goal is to go beyond documentation of the current conditions, and to trace and understand changes in students' competencies over time. Furthermore, the study will analyze classroom teaching practices that influence these changes. To achieve this, the students' teachers will participate in concurrent professional development activities designed to enhance their understandings of middle school students' development of mathematical reasoning and classroom practices that promote that development, and will also be studied in parallel with their students.
  • DELTA Algebra 
    ProjectDigital Environments for the Learning and Teaching of Algebra. Dr. Despina Stylianou, co-PI. This is a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation DKR-12 program aiming to expand the work of Mathematics in the City towards early algebra. This work aims to build multimedia professional development materials for teachers in the teaching and learning of algebra in the elementary grades, as well as accompanying curriculum materials.
  • Urban Childhoods: The history and policy of Head Start centers in the context of New York City 
    Principal Investigator: Amita Gupta
    Funded by CUE
    The purpose of this research project is to examine the original goals of Head Start in the context of the urban communities that are being served today in New York City – communities that reflect the urban socio-cultural-economic environment of a changed and more globalized world which is also more technologically connected. The research will be conducted as a qualitative inquiry in four Head Start centers in Harlem. The goal will be to better understand 1) how the local community and parent body have changed over time, and 2) to assess the effectiveness of the centers in providing appropriate services to the children and their families in preparing them to be ready for primary schooling, developing into productive citizens of their world, and being equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in an increasingly global environment. The federal Head Start Program has been established on a sound set of principles for the development of the whole child. Understanding the current socio-political-economic contexts for which this program was initiated allows us to better align programmatic goals with the underlying principles making for greater efficiency and a higher measure of success. Data will be collected through interviews, observations and document analysis. The project will undoubtedly add an important and timely dimension to the body of early education in urban environments.
  • "Integrated STEM with iPad-supported Pedagogy"
    Principal Investigator: David Crismond
    Funded by CUE
    Using a Math Seeds grant, this pilot project has purchased 7 Apple iPads and software to support teachers and students in doing integrated STEM learning with engineering design activities. During the 2012-2013 school year, the project will work with elementary, high school and college instructors in using 3rd-generation iPads to support the students in the following while doing engineering design tasks:
    A. Modeling complex systems using simulation Apps, which will help build causal models of how things work;
    B. Troubleshooting prototypes during iterative design through the analysis and voice-annotation of video recordings made with the iPad;
    C. Reflective practice through the use of a NSF-funded "STEM Compass" that will be ported over to the iPad from its current laptop platform; and,
    D. Assessment with an "informed design rubric" that will be used by teachers and students and operate as an iPad App.   
    Students will perform a range of existing engineering tasks, including designing whirligigs and model parachutes, bridges and model skyscrapers, and model cars with different propulsion systems. Proposals will be written based and submitted to the National Science Foundation based on this and other research work done by PI Crismond and others.   


The Center aims to maintain a strong grounding in the community and the schools of New York City. The seeds of this collaboration lie in "Math in the City" (MitC – – the flagship mathematics professional development program of City College for the past twenty years.

Program Development

The Center's programs will build on and augment a number of discipline-based graduate programs (- most notably, mathematics education, elementary education and special education.) Gradually, our goal will be to support the development of doctoral programs at CCNY that will focus on urban education using a variety of lenses and approaches.