I’ve been waist deep in K-5 Common Core State Standards for a year now. Building a parent involvement site to be aligned with CCSS will do that to you.
So I’m pretty well qualified to share some thoughts on the Common Core.
What are the Common Core State Standards?
The CCSS in math are a set of standards that outline what prepared students know, do or understand in math.
In 2009 by the National Governors Association hired Student Achievement Partners to write the CCSS. It appears they’re research based and the writers “collaborated with teachers, researchers, and leading experts” to create the standards. (ref)
What do I think about the CCSS?
As a whole, the Common Core State Standards promote flexible, novel and critical thinking. But the way they’re presented lead educators to want to play “check the boxes” with them.
The language and sentence structure used to express the standards tend to be confusing and verbose – just the opposite of the (assumed) intention of the writers.
When reading through the CCSS, I find myself looking terms up, thinking about possible meanings and struggling through what they really mean.
Why are the CCSS good?
The Standards for Mathematical Practices are pretty awesome. (But those are just the first and smallest part of the math CCSS.) They say that prepared students think, imagine, create and reason. They say students should be flexible in their thinking, try various ways to solve problems and question the right answers.
I couldn’t have written a better treatise on what math students should look like.
What’s wrong with the Common Core State Standards?
The rest of the standards look like a checkbox outline. If you understand the CCSS to be guidelines, this isn’t a problem. But most people don’t.
And the wording of the content standards can be a little… out of hand.
Find whole-number quotients and remainders with up to four-digit dividends and one-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models. CCSS 4.NBT.B.6
That’s one standard. One.
But again, if you go with the “guidelines” and not checkboxes viewpoint, this might not be bad. But some of these standards gets really verbose and confusing.
What do you think?
I love the idea of thinking instead of memorizing. But I can see how the list of standards can be overwhelming.
What do you think? Do you love the Common Core? Hate it? Are you frustrated, excited or ambivalent?
And how does it impact your teaching?
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