Common Core Math Invasion

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Common Core Math Invasion

The November 12, 2014 edition of Education Week, “American Education’s Newspaper of Record,” features a 26-page section that attempts to explain and justify Common Core math. The supplement is titled, “Making Sense of the Math: The Common Core in Practice.” Almost every other page features an advertisement for a Common Core-based product that would supposedly make the new math more readily understood by students and teachers. There are more than a dozen ads, many are full-page, and most are touting Common Core-related products. The ads sport statements such as, “Raising the Bar and Making it Reachable” and “The Future of Math Education is Here.”

Letter from frustrated parentBut there is serious concern that Common Core math is not better than previous methods, is not rigorous, and is in fact confusing students, parents, and even teachers who are supposed to be leading students. The Education Week insert seems meant to overcome, or at least diminish, those concerns.

Fallout from Common Core (CC) math isn’t only happening in states that adopted the standards. Virginia did not adopt Common Core when 45 other states rushed to get Race to the Top grants offered by the Obama administration. Yet, Common Core math is being used in Virginia classrooms. This is partially due to changes in textbooks and materials and because Virginia is choosing to follow the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics recommendations.

What’s Wrong With CC Math?

The Staunton, Virginia News Leader newspaper exposes the fact that although the Virginia Board of Education rejected Common Core in 2010, math teaching in Virginia schools aligns 95% with Common Core. (12-27-14)

Reporting from a Virginia elementary school, the News Leader gives the following report of students who, instead of using long division to figure out how many times 7 goes into 184, use “guessing” as a way to find the answer. The newspaper reports this, about a young student working on the math problem:

Damoni just guessed that the solution to the math problem was 12. So she then multiplied 7 by 12 and found that gave her 84, not close at all to 184. She subtracted the 84 from 184 and then took 7 into 100. She did this until the remaining ‘balance’ was two and then added the numbers she guessed together to get the rounded-down answer of 26.

In Virginia, this is called “student-centered math.” Although the state did not adopt Common Core, “for all intents and purposes, ‘student-centered math’ follows Common Core standards” and it is “the way students must understand problems to score well on [Virginia’s] Standards of Learning tests.”

The News Leader reports that according to Dori Walk, executive director of instruction for Staunton Schools “every seven years, the department of education reviews standards in each subject and makes changes based on what is considered the best practice. . . . Virginia’s standards and the Common Core standards stem from reports by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics about best practices for teaching the subject.” So, the NCTM is a main reason Virginia students are being taught Common Core math, through the back door.

NCTM Promotes Common Core Math

Promising to do all they can to support Common Core, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) website states:

The widespread adoption of the Common Core Standards for Mathematics presents an unprecedented opportunity for systemic improvement in mathematics education in the United States. [Common Core] offers a foundation for the development of more rigorous, focused, and coherent mathematics curricula, instruction, and assessments that promote conceptual understanding and reasoning as well as skill fluency. (NCTM.org)

In August of 2013, the NCTM called for increased funding for professional development for teachers and other school personnel involved in CC math; funding for research and implementation of CC assessments; and “accommodations in teacher evaluation systems.” The NCTM says, “Most important, all stakeholders must acknowledge that systemic improvement takes a number of years, and a long-term commitment to supporting the Common Core Standards is necessary, even if initial assessment results do not show substantial improvements in student achievement.”

In other words, taxpayers should spend lots more money to implement Common Core math and no one, including math teachers, should be held accountable when students don’t do well when this new, “new math” proves to be yet another failed experiment.