Common Core math standards have been maligned, misinterpreted, and misunderstood for quite some time. Oftentimes, even those in the media muddy the waters with inaccurate or incomplete reporting, leading to stories that are misleading and confusing. Let’s clarify some key points, and set the record straight.
What the Media is Getting Wrong:
Recent press reports have been highly critical of Common Core math standards by charging that they:
- Demand “fuzzy” new math that replaces traditional tried-and-true methods;
- Require students to learn multiple approaches that are confusing and unnecessarily complicated; and
- Rely on a “top-down” forced mandate that ignores teachers and local communities.
The Real Message:
Common Core math standards are designed so that ALL students are equipped with the math concepts and skills to make them ready for college and career.
- There is no “fuzzy” math…there is only math. All students will still learn the math fundamentals — addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division — just like their parents. As those skills develop, they will learn other methods and strategies as well. Unfortunately, poorly designed math homework exists, and we encourage parents to work with teachers and local schools to improve it.
- Knowing multiple methods prepares them for more complex problems. Just as the more skilled baseball pitcher masters multiple pitches (fastball, curveball, slider), the more skilled student knows multiple ways to solve a math problem. And knowing multiple ways to solve a problem allows the student to select the method that is best for them.
- Local communities are innovating! Communities are finding the best ways to support parents with common core math. Many recent articles highlight how school districts, principals, and teachers across the country are offering their time and ideas on how to help parents understand the standards so they can help their children learn.
Here’s a great video from the Idaho Core Standards, showing first graders using a variety of methods to solve a problem:
For parents, be sure to check out the Parent Roadmaps to Common Core Math Standards, put together by the Council of the Great City Schools. There are roadmaps for each grade that lay out the standards in ways parents can understand.
Sol Friedberg, chair of the Math Department at Boston College, writes in USA Today on how Common Core Is Not Fuzzy.
More information and examples can be found in this resource, Common Core Math: Addressing Misconceptions.
Professional Associations that Support the Common Core Mathematics Standards:
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
- National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM)
- Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM)
- Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE)
- American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges
- American Mathematical Society
- American Statistical Association
- Association for Women in Mathematics
- Institute of Mathematical Statistics
- Mathematical Association of America
- National Association of Mathematicians
- Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics