Monday, September 21, 2020
US flag

Common Core math may set unrealistic goals

A national survey of math teachers in states using the Common Core has found mixed feelings about the standards. Some teachers think the standards established by the Common Core may be beyond the reach of many of their students and their parents.

The Thomas B Fordham Institute interviewed about a thousand K-8 teachers who use the Common Core math standards during the spring of 2015, but results are just now being made available. The foundation reached the following conclusions:

  • Parents tend not to reinforce math learning at home, perhaps because they don’t understand the way the subject is being taught.
  • Teachers believe the Common Core standards will help their students prepare for college and beyond.
  • Students are sometimes frustrated when asked to check their answers by using a different method to solve the same problem they just solved.

Education Week wrote a blog post about the survey, and a few parents posted comments saying the problem isn’t so much that they are unfamiliar with the new way old subjects are being taught under the Common Core but that schools and teachers are providing too few resources that allow them to help their students learn the math with the new methods.

A key finding from the report is that almost two-thirds of teachers said they are more likely under the Common Core to ask their students to explain their math solutions in writing. While writing is an important skill, it is less relevant in mathematics than it is in, say, social studies or science.

Requiring students to explain mathematical calculations in paragraph form, then, does little to advance their understanding of mathematics. Teachers would better use this effort, I believe, to develop numeracy skills in their students and teach them how to use the language of mathematics, rather than English.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Tim Kaine talks to Fairfax Co. seniors

In Virginia, protesters intimidated citizens at an early voting center in Fairfax Co. Sen. Tim Kaine talks about voting to students.

Obituary: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is certain to bring a political battle between the president, the Senate, and Democrats.

Students help in wake of Gulf Coast storms

Hurricane victims in the South got some much needed help from students at one Louisiana school. Laura and Sally have been very destructive.

Scientific American endorses a candidate

It's rare that a science journal would endorse a presidential candidate, but it has happened, due mainly to Pres. Trump's rejection of science.

Student news roundup, Maryland, Sept. 16

The pandemic reveals much more about us than our unpreparedness for virtual learning; Md. students look at healthcare and choices about schooling.

Smoke from Calif. paints the East Coast sun

The sunrise this morning in Baltimore and Chicago was cooled by smoke from the Calif. wildfires, which created a thick haze aloft.

Student news roundup, Illinois, Sept. 14

Special ed advocate in Evanston dies; Remembering 9/11; Business, fine arts, and cultural life during the pandemic.

No, the president can’t run for a 3rd term

The 22nd Amendment limits the number of times a president can be elected to two. But maybe Constitutions mean little to the current administration.

Worst Calif. wildfire season in decades

Wildfires in what could be one of Calif.'s worst autumns ever have destroyed structures, including schools, killed people, and mass evacuations.

Children will wait to impress others

Does it pay off to wait for a bigger reward, or should you just take a smaller reward quicker? The "marshmallow test" has some insights.

School opens virtually in most Md. districts

School is now in session across all of Maryland, and it's mostly online, despite calls to keep trying to get in-person instruction.