Mathematics and shifting to the Common Core Standards

I hear little chatter on this topic as I travel from state to state. The silence is deafening, so I fear that our guard may be down when our sense of urgency needs to be up.

Given that roughly 40% of the states are generally below or well below the Mathematics standards by which the NAEP (National Assessment of Academic Progress) is calibrated and given the generally-alarming state of student performance in Mathematics, it seems that when we shift from state-driven to national (common core) standards, we will have more than a little dilemma on our hands in America’s school and classrooms.

If we are going to ratchet-up standards in Mathematics, and prepare students for full-fledged Algebra by 8th grade in states where this is not already the standard, we must look beyond simply mapping the existing gaps. We must also focus and deliver teacher supports as follows:

1. Schedule students in performance bands to accommodate better remedial and accelerated strategies to get all kids moving more rapidly through the work of skill and concept building. We need to abandon simple organization by traditional grade levels. NWEA schools can use RIT bands to organize kids and teachers with great confidence.

2. Better differentiate teacher professional development according to where each teacher’s Mathematics competence reveals just like we should be providing for students. This must be coupled with as much content training as training in teacher pedagogy.

3. Abandon traditional approaches to spiraling so that time is not wasted on thin revisiting of already-learned skills. Take time to go deep when new skills are learned.

4. Listen to the best Mathematics teachers–they know where the text book will and will not work. They must serve as the main informers of curriculum mapping, teacher professional development, and teaching strategies.

The shift to Common Core Standards is upon us, except where politicians in a few states (such as Texas) have used their ideology to fight the feds by blocking the Common Core Standards at the expense of their own kids. Will we be ready? Will we win for kids or waste time?

What did I miss?

JW

2 Comments on “Mathematics and shifting to the Common Core Standards

    • Thank you Fastmetal. From my perspective Singapore Math has a lot of potential to help us deepen math skills and accelerate student performance. My perspective on Singapore Math approaches as part of our Nation’s solution is though familiarity with two programs: Reasoning Mind (see reasoningmind.com ) and Si Swun Math (see swunmath.com ). Mostly, the focus on skills in all Math strands (including algebraic thinking) begin earlier in elementary schools and in the case of these two programs, teacher capacity building is also a focal point. THX JW

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