Mathematics standards include:
• K-5 standards will give students “a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals.” This will help students build strong math foundations for more advanced concepts.
• Kindergarten students will follow successful international math models and recommendations from the National Research Council’s Early Math Panel report by focusing on numbers, how numbers correspond to quantities, and how to put numbers together and take them apart—the beginnings of addition and subtraction.
• Teachers will have detailed guidance on how to help K-5 students through traditionally difficult topics such as fractions and negative numbers.
• Conceptual understanding, in addition to procedural skills, will be essential.
• After building a K-5 math foundation, students should be prepared for geometry, algebra, and probability and statistics. “Students who have completed 7th grade and mastered the content and skills through the 7th grade will be well-prepared for algebra in grade 8,” the standards say.
• High school standards will ask students to apply mathematical ways of thinking to real-world challenges, and they will help students develop the ability to apply knowledge as college students and employees regularly do.
• The high school standards “emphasize mathematical modeling—the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, understand them better, and improve decisions.”
Forty-eight states and Washington, D.C., signed on to help develop the common core standards. Kentucky was the first state to pledge adoption, and West Virginia, Maryland, and Hawaii have since signed on to adopt the standards.
The Council of the Great City Schools also urged adoption of the standards. In an open letter to school leaders, the organization said that “even the best efforts will not get all students to the levels of performance needed to compete in today’s global economy until we repair the patchwork system of U.S. standards that encourages high expectations in one community while discouraging those expectations in another.”
“In all, the initiative has been an important and strong step toward ensuring [that] all states have a consistent approach to rigorous standards,” said Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). “P21 believes this initiative will lead us in the direction of internationally benchmarked standards that ensure 21st-century readiness for every student.”
Kay said his organization will issue a more detailed analysis of the final standards in the coming weeks.
The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) lauded the standards’ release as “a major step toward elevating the expectations for every student,” and the group said it “looks forward to assisting state boards in this effort.”
If states decide to adopt the standards, they will have to develop curricula, align assessments, and train teachers and other staff.
Toward that end, the Obama administration has made $350 million in Race to the Top funding available to help states develop new tests based on the Common Core Standards in English and math. (See “Feds to shape the future of assessment.”)
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