Deborah Schifter

Email Deborah Schifter

Deborah Schifter
Principal Research Scientist

Mailing Address: 

26 Crescent Street
Northampton, MA 01060



Deborah Schifter is an expert in early algebra learning and mathematics education. She leads research, develops instructional resources, and designs professional development that helps teachers enhance their mathematics instruction and ensure students' mathematics proficiency. In 2017, Heineman will publish a book co-authored by Schifter, Virginia Bastable, and Susan Jo Russell—But Why Does it Work? Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Grades—that provides new insights drawn from their cutting-edge investigations of algebraic thinking at the elementary level.

Schifter is, with support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, working to update and revise the Developing Mathematical Ideas professional development series. To date, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has republished two volumes in the series: Building A System of Tens and Making Meaning for Operations.

A sought-after keynote speaker on the topic of mathematics education, Schifter presented a session at the 2016 13th Annual International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME) in Hamburg, Germany. Following the ICME, she co-authored “Early Algebra: Research into its Nature, its Learning, its Teaching,” a volume in the ICME-13 Topical Surveys Series published by Springer. She regularly presents at the annual conferences of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Teacher Development Group, and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators.

Schifter authored Reconstructing Mathematics Education: Stories of Teachers Meeting the Challenge of Reform and edited a two-volume anthology of teachers’ writing, What’s Happening in Math Class? She is coauthor of the book Connecting Arithmetic to Algebra and of the elementary curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space. She is coeditor of A Research Companion to Principles and Standards for School Mathematics.

Schifter has been a member of the editorial board of Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education since 2001. She was a writer for the Mathematical Education of Teachers Project and has either chaired or been a member of numerous advisory committees for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Science Foundation. She is a frequent collaborator with colleagues at TERC and The Mathematics Leadership Programs at Mount Holyoke College.

Schifter is an inaugural fellow of the International Society for Design and Development in Education. In 2012, she was selected to give the Judith E. Jacobs lecture at the annual meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. The American Educational Research Association awarded her its Professional Service Award, in 1996, and the Constructivist Research, Theory, and Practice Special Interest Group recognition for Significant Contribution to the Profession, in 1999.

Before joining EDC, Schifter taught elementary, secondary, and college-level mathematics and was an applied mathematician at the Naval Research Laboratory. In 1985, she began working for SummerMath for Teachers at Mount Holyoke College and directed that program from 1988 to 1993.

She received a BA from Saint John's College, Annapolis, an MA in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland, and an MS and PhD in psychology from the University of Massachusetts.