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The Promise Of The Common Core


First, my simplistic Sound-bites evaluation of Common Core math Grades 1-9: * It is twice as good as the current standards in about 44 states, including Maryland. (The current Maryland HSA on Algebra does include knowing that 2x + 3x = 5x.) * It is not half as good as it needs to be. (It does not require students to know that 50% is a half.) * It will get us three quarters of the way back to 1983, when "Nation at Risk" was written. The de-facto national semi-curriculum in Math for the past two decades has been the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (NCTM) Standards of 1989 & 2000. About 44 states have adapted (not adopted) them. It marginalized arithmetic. The NCTM K-8 Math curriculum is difficult for teachers to teach and difficult for students to learn. It is incoherent and has too many topics, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, probability, Statistics and problem solving. With too many topics, soon after a topic is started, the teacher must switch to the next one; this occurs before the learning is moved into long-term memory. This makes it easy for students to forget a Math topic within a month. The Common Core math standards remove probability and Statistics from elementary school. Also the Common Core math standards are coherent. With less topics and a coherent curriculum, elementary school Math should be easier for teachers to teach and easier for students to learn and remember. There are only three Common Core math standards on percentages; with so little time for percentages, many students will forget percentages before they are promoted from middle school. Of course, successful implementation of Common Core math standards will require good textbooks. Many current textbooks are ineffective.

More on the harm of CCSS for K - 3.

Albert Hanker would turn over in his grave were he to read this under his name. What CC was supposed to be and how it was executed are two substantially different and disperate things. How could any approach to classroom teaching be formulated with virtually no teachers? And what would propel any sane person to implement this without any pretesting or tryout in a classroom filled with actual kids to see how it worked? And what human being claiming to be educated would roll it out without any preparation and use it for assessments of teachers? Guess the right and the left are remarkably idiotic but this writer is so sensible. OMG.

At the risk of sounding "paranoid", is it true that the Smarter Balanced consortium for Common Core tests will for bid the tests being read aloud to blind elementary students who don't know braille? The idea of a blind child randomly poking at a computer in response to a test that he can't even see sounds so bizarre it's hard to believe, but this comes from a source I would usually consider reliable.

I am uncertain why having concerns about Gates paying for all the legwork for CC counts as paranoid. It's not paranoid to believe that money buys influence. Regarding assessments, the third grade sample I saw required third-graders to type responses- a skill that they don't have and we don't teach at that grade level. A fact that is not exactly unknown to teachers who work with that grade but apparently lost on the test makers. As far as deepening the curriculum the first thing our district had teachers do was "tunnel down" to the core ideas because the standards were so unmanageable.

I notice that you completely avoided the fact that the CCSS is developmentally inappropriate for K - 3 as well as the reasons that this is the case. A common set of standards used as a voluntary guide that was developed with far greater input from educators and far less input from financially interested parties is preferable to the current incarnation.

Good blog. I'm a "soft yes" on CC, thinking if a lot of things call in place, teachers could end up with much better curric that they could then modify. Particularly with proliferation of stuff like Better Lesson. Small nit: you didn't mention Diane Ravitch in the "left." Isn't she the most influential opposed voice? I realize that might be touchy to mention b/c you align with her on other issues and may well be a personal friend. But serious question...while I suspect DR won't materially affect, say, charter school policy in long run, might she help tilt things against Common Core?


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