Home > Singapore Math® Story

    The Singapore Math® story

    In December 1997, we requested exclusive distribution rights to Primary Mathematics in North America. Although highly skeptical of the potential for of a U.S. market, the publishers granted us provisional distribution rights. We bought a modest quantity of books and marketed the Singapore Math curriculum through direct mailings. Our efforts soon brought us into contact with a circle of academics and non-profit leaders who were following trends in international achievement tests. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) had just declared Singapore number one in math education in the world, and interest grew rapidly. A wide variety of schools, from large public districts to small private academies, wanted to try Singapore Math. Our garage began to resemble a small Math.

    By the end of 1998, home school parents began buying books on our first website. This was a market clamoring for alternatives to mainstream curriculum. Home school families keenly share new information with one another and awareness of our products grew rapidly.

    Professional development was the next step. We put together a network of trainers built around the Rosenbaum Foundation’s support for improvement in teacher quality. The Primary Mathematics series is unique in that it was developed by the Singapore Ministry of Education, not by a publishing house. Most elementary school teachers in the U.S. are not required to demonstrate mastery of mathematics content even though they will teach math to their students. The Singapore Math approach to elementary education calls for mastery in the early grades, and includes elements that have been tailored to the ongoing need for teachers to master concepts and problem-solving heuristics.

    In 1999, we expanded our offerings to include secondary math and science materials. We continued to build the North American market through diligent attention to customers’ needs. The concept of “Singapore Math” entered the larger consciousness of American education circles through our relentless effort to get the word out in our early years. By 2002, we moved our operations from our garage to commercial offices.

    In 2003, we persuaded our publishers that it was time for an adaptation of the Primary Mathematics series for the U.S. market. We undertook the adaptation with great care to preserve all but cosmetic and cultural elements, such as British spelling. We also added customary weights and measurements. Singapore Math Inc. was entirely responsible for funding and marketing Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition . The new edition, combined with our own teacher’s guides and answer keys, and a growing list of supplemental titles from more than a half dozen publishers in Singapore, contributed to the steady growth of our company. Singapore Math Inc. became a nationally and internationally recognized source for quality educational products. Schools and booksellers from Australia to the United Arab Emirates were interested in the rigorous program we promoted.

    In 2007, Singapore Math Inc. partnered with Marshall Cavendish Pvt. Ltd. to adapt the Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition series for submission to the California Mathematics Textbook Adoption. The subsequent approval of Primary Mathematics Standards Edition for the California Adoption List proved to be a tremendous boost to the series nationwide. In the process of aligning Primary Mathematics with California’s standards, new material was introduced in areas such as probability and data analysis. We were careful not to undermine the beauty of the series’ approach to elementary math instruction.

    As more interest developed in secondary mathematics materials, Singapore Math Inc. partnered with Star Publishing to adapt their top-selling Singapore series for the U.S. market. Dimensions Math for middle school joined our list in 2013, completing our core curriculum of Singapore mathematics titles for K-8.

    With the introduction of Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, Singapore Math Inc. joined with Marshall Cavendish to adapt Primary Mathematics Standards Edition to align with the new standards. Once again, our central task has been to maintain the integrity of the original series. Primary Mathematics Common Core Edition was launched in 2014.

    Singapore Math Inc. will continue to distribute the various versions of Primary Mathematics to meet the diverse needs of our customers. We will also add supplementary titles to our list as they become available. Compared to many state standards and the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, our Singapore curriculum expects more from both students and teachers. When taught with fidelity, the Singapore Math program consistently produces high test results, but, more importantly, instills a love of mathematics and critical thinking. Our efforts have brought Singapore’s excellent math curriculum far beyond the borders of the island nation. We are both proud of this achievement and humbled by the response of educators and students worldwide.


    What is TIMSS?

    TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) is designed to measure trends in students’ mathematics and science achievement in four-year cycles.

    Who conducts these studies?

    These studies are conducted by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). IEA is an independent, international cooperative of national research institutions and governmental research agencies. They are based in Boston, Mass.

    How many TIMSS have been conducted so far?

    Conducted on a four-year cycle, the first round of TIMSS was in 1995, the second in 1999, the third in 2003, the fourth in 2007, and the fifth in 2011.

    General Information on TIMSS:

    TIMSS 2011

    TIMSS 2007

    TIMSS 2003

    TIMSS 1999

    TIMSS 1995

    TIMSS reports on student achievement:






    Complete TIMSS reports (very long pdf files):






    What does TIMSS have to do with Singapore Math Inc.®?

    Singapore's 4th and 8th grade students scored top place for Mathematics in 1995, 1999 and 2003.

    Singapore students who took TIMSS in 1995, 1999 and 2003 were using the Primary Mathematics series, New Elementary Mathematics and New Syllabus Mathematics (5th Edition). Singapore Math Inc.® is the official distributor of Primary Mathematics and New Elementary Mathematics to U.S. and Canadian markets.

    What are the key findings of TIMSS pertaining to Singapore's outstanding performance in mathematics?

    Please see the following press releases by the Ministry of Education, Singapore:

    http://www.moe.gov.sg/press/2004/pr20041214.htm (for TIMSS 2003)

    http://www.moe.gov.sg/press/2000/pr06122000.htm (for TIMSS 1999)

    http://www.moe.gov.sg/press/1997/st00297.htm (for TIMSS 1995)

    Detailed information about TIMSS can be found at the TIMSS web site and the IEA web site.

    AIR Study

    What is AIR?

    The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world.

    What is the purpose of this study?

    Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the study What the United States Can Learn From Singapore’s World-Class Mathematics System (and what Singapore can learn from the United States) identified major differences between the mathematics frameworks, textbooks, assessments, and teacher preparation in the U.S. and Singapore.

    What else does the study include?

    The study also includes initial results from four pilot programs that used the Singapore Math ® curriculum in place of their previous curriculum. The pilot programs involved students in Baltimore, Md., Montgomery County, Md., North Middlesex, Mass., and Paterson, N.J.

    What Singapore Math® books did these pilot programs use?

    All four pilot programs used the Primary Mathematics series.

    Where can I find the full AIR report?

    Please visit the AIR web site for the summarized report.