The MDTP was established in 1978 for the purpose of designing diagnostic tests to help teachers better prepare students for further study in mathematics. The idea behind the testing project is to provide a tool that enables a student to identify specific topics and skills needed by the student for success in mathematics at the next level. The MDTP has developed over the years a series of diagnostic readiness tests, from a beginning algebra readiness test to the calculus readiness test used at UCLA.
The MDTP receives its funding jointly from the California State University and from the University of California. It has secondary sources of funding, which allow the MDTP to provide its selection of diagnostic tests free to California high schools and postsecondary schools. The MDTP distributes and scores over 350,000 of its exams throughout the State of California each year.
The MDTP also sponsors workshops and provides consulting services for interpreting and responding to test results, and for improving mathematics curricula and instruction throughout California. The project publishes a newsletter for teachers and curriculum consultants. It sponsors regional conferences each year to discuss curricular issues.
Since its inception, the MDTP work group has been chaired by Professor P.C. Curtis of UCLA. The work group currently has about 20 members drawn from high school and college teachers of mathematics and science. The administration of the MDTP is directed by Professor Alfred Manaster of UC San Diego. The exams are scored at ten sites located at various UC and CSU campuses.