Core standards writers: ‘Expect outrage’

“Expect outrage” when Common Core standards are implemented said Jason Zimba, one of the lead writers, at a policy forum.

The source of the outrage, (co-writer David) Coleman said, will be those who are used to seeing the kind of math activities in 5th grade, for example, that focus on “data” but in practice deal with little more than counting and making bar charts and graphs that amount to a “fake version of developing young scientists.”

By contrast, the common core math standards would adopt a “teach less, learn more” approach identified by Zimba that he and Coleman said would ensure mastery of truly important skills. One exaple: making sure students can demonstrate comprehension of and the ability to deal with fractions, a key algebraic skill that in many ways is the most demanding kind of math. What many view as “basic” math is, in fact, the most important and rich, they said.

To meet the new standards, teachers will have to spend more time going into depth on fewer math topics, Zimba and Coleman said.

Zimba fended off a question from an audience member about whether the common core had been comprehensively tested in the field by saying the common core is the result of a decade-long experiment with students and how they dealt with various standards, as well as extensive research. “They’re not a pill,” he said.

How to use standards successfully “remains in teachers’ hands,” he said.


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  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    Zimba fended off a question from an audience member about whether the common core had been comprehensively tested in the field…

    Of course it hasn’t. In fact, I can’t think of anything in this business that has been comprehensively tested in the field before it went into mass production.

    That may well be my ignorance. Can someone provide a counter-example?

  2. You put it best, Joanne. It will be up to the teachers. Sadly, I assume their answer will be to simply assign more homework and more worksheets or place students on whatever fancy new online tutorial Pearson or some other publishing lobby creates.

    Students will continue to fail the test. Bureaucrats will decide the common core was never all it was cracked up to be, and 10 years from now, some genius will create a new method of accountability, based on someone’s “research.”

    At least then I can say “I told you so” from the comforts of a golf course at my retirement resort.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    Sadly so many of our K-5 and higher math teachers are ill-prepared to do this as they never acquired the necessary knowledge to comprehend, master and then teach the subject…dang…

    • What does “so many” mean? The math teachers in my district – at all levels – could teach in college; in fact, several do. Some have Masters degrees in math, engineering and other math-related fields.

      I suspect this is how it is in many districts nationwide.

      • SuperSub says:

        I’ve worked in four districts in upstate NY over the past seven years… three of which were upper-middle class suburban districts… and there was only one teacher I know of that had any non-edu grad work, and he was a career changer in his fifties. Anecdotal, yes, but given the demographics you’d expect more based upon your assumption.

      • He said K-5. I don’t imagine many people with advanced degrees in STEM choosing to teach at that level. Why would someone pursue an MA or MS in math just to teach 5th grade?

        Having been in ed-school with elementary ed people I can honestly say they were some of the most ignorant people I’ve ever seen. Even the secondary ed students, those who were to teach non-STEM subjects, couldn’t handle the HS math lessons put forth by math-teachers-to-be.

        A friend of mine is a former engineering student who teaches elementary school. He tells me that most other teachers are complete math illiterates.

        • Obi-Wandreas says:

          Most people don’t realize how much knowledge is really required to properly teach elementary mathematics.

          As I have said many times, to properly teach prepare for and teach all four core subjects, even at the elementary level, requires more time than is physically available to any mortal person during the week. Without specialization and focus on subject area knowledge, teachers will not be properly prepared.

      • My kids attended some of the best schools in some of the best suburbs – according to reputation and student outcomes – and never had an ES or MS teacher who had a master’s in anything but education.Their ES teachers, and some of their MS teachers, also had their bachelor’s degree in education. That is not to say that some did not take math coursework, but it was not until HS that my kids had a math or science teacher with a non-ed master’s in their subject, in addition to a bachelor’s in their subject area. I suspect there are lots of places like those. It sounds as if you live in Lake Woebegon.

  4. Timber, you always say the same thing and you never know what you’re talking about. Your entire post, as always, is wrong.