Core meltdown

In Core Meltdown Coming, Education Realist looks at how the Common Core will change math instruction.

Right now middle school math, which should ideally focus almost entirely on proportions, is burdened with introductions to exponents, a little geometry, some simple single variable equations. Algebra I has a whole second semester in which students who can’t tell a positive from negative slope are expected to master quadratics in all their glory and all sorts of word problems.

But Common Core standards add exponential functions to the algebra one course load and compensate by moving systems of equations and exponent laws to eighth grade while much of isolating variables is booted all the way down to sixth grade. Seventh grade alone bears the weight of proportions and ratios, and it’s one of several curricular objectives. So in the three years when, ideally, our teachers should be doing their level best to beat proportional thinking into students’ heads, Common Core expects our students to learn half of what used to be called algebra I, with a slight nod to proportional thinking . . .

“Half” of geometry is being pushed down to middle school too, writes Ed Realist.

In theory, students will arrive in high school ready to learn “complex, real-world mathematical tasks.” But only if they’re able to learn in middle school what many students are not able to learn in high school.

Under Common Core, college and career readiness requires passing Algebra II. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says Common Core will stop us “lying to kids about whether they are ready. Finally, we are telling them the truth, telling their parents the truth, and telling their future employers the truth. Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable to giving our children a true college and career-ready education.”

Honesty doesn’t require new standards and tests, writes Ed Realist.

 We could just say to any kid who can’t score 500 on the SAT math section or 23 on the ACT: Hey, sorry. You aren’t ready for college. Probably won’t ever be. Time to go get a job.

If we don’t have the gumption to do that now, what about Common Core will give us the necessary stones? Can I remind everyone again that these kids will be disproportionately black and Hispanic?

Common Core math was designed to get schools to teach “integrated math” rather than the traditional algebra, geometry and advanced algebra sequence, writes Ed Realist. North Carolina, Utah and West Virginia have made the switch. Integrated math is a great way to hide the fact that many students aren’t prepared for college math, writes Ed Realist.

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  1. This is pure insanity, and will end up destroying this country. We’ll be economically and militarily dominated by all the BRIC countries, because our populous will be largely innummerate. (I’d add the EU to that list, but they’re going down the same path we are… particularly the U.K.)

  2. Completely insane. A large number of kids are not capable of meeting the CC standards and never will be, At the same time, the CC standards will be treated by most schools as a ceiling, not a floor, so the capable and motivated kids aiming for STEM fields and/or elite colleges will not get the REAL advanced math (including AP calc BC) and sciences they need. One-size-fits-all is flat-out ridiculous. The problems start in ES. An experienced teacher said that Everyday Math and its fellow travelers were specifically created for the heterogeneous, fully-included classroom, in order to enable the pretense that all are learning. Can we say more of the same? Of course, the same issues exist in all subjects

    • Parents who have kids in school who learned math the way it was taught in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s better invest in Kumon or Singapore math, since our public schools won’t be able to educate them in the knowledge they’ll need in order to succeed in college or CTE, if they choose either route.


  3. It’s so insane, in fact, that the only two possibilities are that (1) the creators and promoters of Common Core are *complete* idiots (and I don’t mean that in a facetious way; I mean, literally, complete idiots) or… (2) the creators and promoters of Common Core are, in fact, out to destroy the U.S.

    Given my past experience and 20+ years working in education (at both the K-12 level and the college level), I’m betting on option #2…

  4. Crimson Wife says:

    Integrated math is not automatically bad. That is what most high-performing European and Asian countries do. However, these countries do not pretend to give all students a college-prep education. They give their students a national exam at the end of 6th grade or so and performance on that dictates what type of high school students will attend and which academic track they will take.

    While that type of system is IMHO superior, I don’t think it is politically feasible in a country that is as racially and ethnically diverse as the U.S. Look at all the controversy over the demographic makeup of the handful of exam schools that exist.

    • When common sense can’t be applied fairly, no matter the outcome (“let the chips fall where they may”), then we really *are* doomed. Political correctness is going to, literally, destroy us.

  5. SC Math Teacher says:

    With so many students barely able to grasp linear equations (on a recent test some couldn’t even place a point correctly given the coordinates), I shudder to think how they’ll handle quadratic and exponential functions, especially using them in word problems.

  6. You know, this stuff is getting so bad that it’s becoming impossible to explain it as mere incompetence. At some point, you run out of credulity.

    I can’t figure out who’s interest is served by a nation full of idiots, but there certainly does seem to be a deliberate push to make it so.