Virginia would have to “dumb itself down” to switch to proposed national standards, writes Robert Holland of the Lexington Institute in a Richmond Times-Dispatch column. Virginia’s well-regarded Standards of Learning are “concise, specific, and straightforward,” he writes, while “the national version sounds like an exercise in groupthink.”
The proposed College and Career Readiness Standards for Mathematics appear to be highly tolerant of the “new math” mindset of emphasizing conceptual understanding more and computational skill less. The work group announces confidently that “we have taken a step toward the next generation of standards that are aligned to college and career-ready expectations and are internationally benchmarked.” New standards “must be focused on deeper, more thorough understanding of more fundamental mathematical ideas and higher mastery of these fewer, more useful skills.”
So is learning the multiplication tables a useful skill? You wouldn’t know it from these standards, which are woefully short of grade-level specifics. However, there are multiple tasks that encourage the estimating of answers. Isn’t that what’s needed in the 21st century: best guesses?
Other states with strong standards may balk at switching to the common standards, unless the proposed draft is strengthened significantly.