Reading about the new math standards outlining what students should be able to learn and understand by each grade I found hardly any academic mathematicians who could say the standards were higher than the old California standards, which were among the nation's best. I learned that at the 2010 annual conference of mathematics societies, Bill McCallum, a leading writer of Common Core math standards, said that the new standards "would not be too high" in comparison with other nations where math education excels. Jason Zimba, another lead writer of the mathematics standards, told the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the new standards wouldn't prepare students for colleges to which "most parents aspire" to send their children.I've been saying this for quite some time, I'm glad I have professor at a respected university saying the same thing. Let me emphasize the point she made that I just quoted:
I also read that the Common Core offers "fewer standards" but "deeper" and "more rigorous" understanding of math. That there were "fewer standards" became obvious when I saw that they were vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics. Many topics for instance, calculus and pre-calculus, about half of algebra II and parts of geometry were taken out and many were moved to higher grades.
As a result, the Common Core standards were several years behind the old standards, especially in higher grades. It became clear that the new standards represent lower expectations and that students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college and would certainly struggle if they did get in...
This model-drawing mania went on in my grandson's class for the entire year, leaving no time to cover geometry and other important topics. While model drawing might occasionally be useful, mathematics is not about visual models and "real world" stories. It became clear to me that the Common Core's "deeper" and "more rigorous" standards mean replacing math with some kind of illustrative counting saturated with pictures, diagrams and elaborate word problems. Simple concepts are made artificially intricate and complex with the pretense of being deeper while the actual content taught was primitive.
Simple concepts are made artificially intricate and complex with the pretense of being deeper while the actual content taught was primitive.Remember what I wrote here?
I will say this: some of the 11th grade math questions were worded in an obtuse way. I will say that we have highly qualified, very competent math teachers at my school, and some of the problems had a few of us gathered around trying to figure out exactly what a problem was asking for. If it takes 3 good math teachers, two with masters degrees and one working on one, to figure out what an Algebra 1 question is asking, then the question isn't a good one.Ugh.
There's a difference between rigor, that which requires a depth of knowledge and skill, and confusion, which makes the problem unnecessarily hard while obscuring the actual math.
Let's return to the professor:
Yet the most astounding statement I have read is the claim that Common Core standards are "internationally benchmarked." They are not. The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries, just as they fail compared to the old California standards. They are lower in the total scope of learned material, in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects, and in the delayed and often inconsistent and incoherent introductions of mathematical concepts and skills.I agree with her completely.
For those who still want to argue, here are the professor's credentials:
Ms. Ratner is professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the international Ostrowski Prize in 1993 and received the John J. Carty Award from the National Academy of Sciences, of which she is a member, in 1994.She merits being listened to, as does anyone whose critique makes sense.