Mathematics education in the United States is at a pivotal moment. As of August, 2012, forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core standards, a set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading. Thirty-two states and the district have been granted waivers from important parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. As part of the agreement in being granted a waiver, those states have agreed to implement Common Core. States have been led to believe that adoption of such standards will improve mathematics and English-language education in our public schools. We fear that this initiative may actually make the situation worse. The final math standards released in June, 2010 appear to some as if they are thorough and rigorous. Although they have the “look and feel” of math standards, we believe that they are deficient, and that their adoption will continue the status quo in this country: many students failing to receive a proper math education and being forced to take remedial math classes in college.
Based on what is being discussed at seminars on how to implement the Common Core, the emphasis is not on the content standards, but on the 8 Standards of Mathematical Practice (SMP). The SMP are NCTM's process standards, and they are driving a pedagogical agenda that features student-centered and inquiry-based approaches. The SMP as well as the content standards themselves are predicated on a belief that conceptual understanding MUST precede procedure. In fact, in a document that provides guidance to publishers on criteria for aligning textbooks to the standards, written by two of the main authors of the standards--Phil Daro and William MacCallum-- it states that "conceptual understanding needs to underpin fluency work," or that "[sufficient] fluency can be practiced in the context of applications." is untrue that conceptual understanding "needs" (implying it always does) to underpin fluency. Often it does, often it does not. The word "needs" unnecessarily and incorrectly will limit fluency to always follow conceptual understanding.Understanding and procedure work hand in hand; sometimes students learn procedure before understanding the concept
While the math standards may be an improvement over existing standards in some states, they could be a lot better. And in the end, it appears that all the standards will do is ensure a student-centered, "understanding before procedure" approach to math education which so far has proven to be a disaster.
People need to tell their state legislators not to jump on the Common Core bandwagon. And if their state is talking about backing out, the move to do so should be complete: Drop the adoption of the Common Core standards.
Status of Comments on the Common Core Standards
July 12, 2010
Read what Ze'ev Wurman and Steve Wilson have to say about the Common Core Standards:http://educationnext.org/the-common-core-math-standards/
June 2, 2010
The Final Common Core Standards Are Released
Please Read Our Complete Review
of the Common Core K-12 Mathematics
March 2010 Draft:
K-12 Common Core Standards Now Available for Comment
On Wednesday, March 10th, the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) released the final draft of the K-12 mathematics standards for public comment.
The standards can be found on the CCSSI web site:
Archived Comments on Common Core:
The College and Career Readiness Standards for Mathematics Draft for Review and Comment was released on September 21, 2009 as part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (see them here: http://www.corestandards.org/Files/MathStandardsSources.pdf ). The U.S. Coalition for World Class Math provided review and comments in response to the draft which we submitted to CCSSI.
A copy of our comments can be found here: USCoalitionComments.pdf
The comments we submitted on 10/21/09 emphasized our concern that the Common Core Standards fail to specify the optional, higher-level mathematical content necessary for college-readiness in STEM disciplines. It has now come to our attention that enrollment prerequisites for BA programs in non-STEM fields of many, perhaps most, state universities also require mastery of numerous Algebra II and Geometry topics that are not included in the current draft. This includes the California State University and University of California systems, the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems, University of Illinois and Illinois State University systems, Florida State and University of Florida, Ohio State University, and many others.