Governor Deal complains there has been much “misinformation” spread about the new Common Core national standards that Georgia adopted in exchange for a federal Race to the Top grant. Indeed there has. One critical piece of misinformation is the claim that the Common Core math standards are more “rigorous” than our previous Georgia Performance Standards. I did my own research on this question and found that the truth is quite the opposite.
I have been a math teacher for 25 years and currently serve as a professor of math and science education at Mercer University. As a frequent presenter at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Regional Conferences and Annual Meetings, I saw the building excitement over the new Common Core standards while they were still in development. In the vast exhibit halls at the Annual NCTM meetings, Common Core logos were everywhere. These standards were discussed and promoted well before they were even revealed. Textbook publishers worked diligently to re-name their materials so they could be marketed as aligned to the Common Core. I was writing an online curriculum guide at the time and was asked to do the same.
I realized I needed to see the big picture – where will these national standards take us? -- instead of playing the “alignment” game to help sell a product. So now that the Common Core standards are published and being implemented, I decided to compare them to the NCTM Principles and Standards published in 2000, the previous Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), and the well-regarded Massachusetts state standards that were in effect before Massachusetts traded them for Common Core. I created a spreadsheet with 5 tabs, one for each of the former NCTM Content Standards: Number and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis/Probability. I analyzed every standard in all five areas for grades kindergarten through 8th grade (and also reviewed the Common Core standards for high school).
After spending hours on this project, I am convinced that the Common Core national standards will set our children back one to two years. The national standards are markedly inferior to all three sets of standards I used for comparison. I challenge any “curriculum expert” at the Georgia Department of Education to review my spreadsheet – available at http://marykaybacallao.jimdo.com/common-core-math-standards/-- line by line and offer an honest assessment. It is in comparing the old standards with the new that we will find the truth.
So what is missing in the new Common Core Math Standards? A few examples:
n Mean, median, mode, and range -- gone in elementary grades.
n The concept of pi, including area and circumference of circles – gone in elementary grades.
n The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic (prime factorization) – gone completely.
n Using fractions, decimals, and percents interchangeably -- gone completely.
n Measurement -density – no measurement instruction after 5th grade.
n Division of a fraction by a fraction – gone in elementary grades.
n Algebra -- inadequate readiness in the elementary grades and pushed back one year (from middle school – 8th grade – to high school – 9th grade). This means the majority of Georgia students will not reach calculus in high school, as expected by selective universities.
n Geometry -- simple skills such as calculating the area of triangles, parallelograms and polygons are no longer taught in elementary grades.
But Common Core proponents will argue that NCTM supports Common Core, so the standards must be good. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily so. NCTM has been hijacked by political operators who are less interested in true mathematics education than in cultivating the good graces of the powerful entities behind Common Core. In fact, later this summer NCTM will install as Executive Director a man who has no experience in mathematics, mathematics education, or working with teachers. Teachers, we need to rise up and demand that our national organization reconsider supporting these inferior standards.
I taught elementary math for nine years. I know what students are capable of – and they are capable of so much more than what Common Core requires. When our previous standards actually challenged students, why are we settling for the mediocrity of Common Core?
Click on the following link to the Common Core Opt Out Form:
Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao presented at the NCTM Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado in April of 2013.
Bob Barr on the Common Core:
Barr, who is running for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), said those who advocate for Common Core claim it's not really controlled by the federal government or that it's not really driven by federal monies or that it's going to protect the privacy of Cobb students.
“The fact of the matter is it is a federal program,” Barr said. “It is a program that ultimately is driven by money coming in, the lure of that money is something that the federal government is very good at, luring entities in order to perpetuate the other ‘C’ in Common Core and that is ‘control.’ So I would simply urge all of you this evening being as concerned I know as all of us in the room are with obtaining the very, very best education for our students to consider extremely carefully the nature of this program not just directly but indirectly and what at its core it really is, and that is increasing federal control and consequently reducing your and our control over the education of our students.”
Please feel free to post your thoughts and comments on Common Core math here. Thank you.
I am glad you asked this question. What is missing is the division of a fraction
by a fraction. Common Core included multiplication and division in 5th grade and they do divide a fraction by a whole number but not a fraction or mixed number by a fraction. It is specifically noted in the Common Core Math that, “Division of a fraction by a fraction is not a requirement,” in 5th grade. The concept of inverse operations and what it actually means to divide a fraction by a fraction are important foundations that have been a part of elementary school math as long as I can remember. In chapter 3 of Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics: Teachers’ Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and the United States, Liping Ma writes of the importance of teaching and knowing division of fractions and mixed numbers by fractions. Internationally, this is an important elementary level concept. In Common Core Math, it is no longer taught at the elementary level.