Kevin Knudsen is a professor of mathematics at the University of Florida
Math can’t catch a break. These days, people on both ends of the political spectrum are lining up to deride the Common Core standards, a set of guidelines for K-12 education in reading and mathematics. The Common Core standards outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. States don’t have to adopt the standards, although many did in an effort to receive funds from President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative.
Conservatives oppose the guidelines because they generally dislike any suggestion that the federal government might have a role to play in public education at the state and local level; these standards, then, are perceived as a threat to local control.
Liberals, mostly via teachers’ unions, decry the use of the standards and the associated assessments to evaluate classroom instructors.
And parents of all persuasions are panicked by their sudden inability to help their children with their homework. Even comedian Louis CK got in on the discussion (via Twitter; he has since deactivated his account). (more…)
In a recent piece in US News, Partelow explained how the standards were designed to allow for flexibility and creativity in the classroom. She shared several examples to demonstrate that the standards do not define what teachers should teach or how students should learn, rather, they focus on what students need to know. Take, for instance, the Common Core math standards, which are “less concerned that students master a single prescribed approach to getting the right answer” and instead emphasize students’ understanding that there are multiple ways to solve a problem correctly.
In a new video from Real Learning for Real Life, Aurora teacher, Cassie Harrelson, explains Colorado’s new math standards and the benefits for teachers and students.
The Colorado Academic Standards, which incorporate the Common Core, call for a greater focus in mathematics. Rather than racing to cover topics in a mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum, the Standards require us to significantly narrow and deepen the way time and energy is spent in the math classroom. We focus deeply on the major work of each grade so that students can gain strong foundations: solid conceptual understanding, a high degree of procedural skill and fluency, and the ability to apply the math they know to solve problems inside and outside the math classroom.
Colorado High School Math teacher Tiffany Utoft and other educators share what the new standards mean for math.