Stephanie Sawyer gives her view of the flaws of the Common Core math standards:

I don’t think the common core math standards are good for most kids, not just the Title I students. While they are certainly more focused than the previous NCTM-inspired state standards, which were a horrifying hodge-podge of material, they still basically put the intellectual cart before the horse. They pay lip service to actually practicing standard algorithms. Seriously, students don’t have to be fluent in addition and subtraction with the standard algorithms until 4th grade?

I teach high school math. I took a break to work in the private sector from 2002 to 2009. Since my return, I have been stunned by my students’ lack of basic skills. How can I teach algebra 2 students about rational expressions when they can’t even deal with fractions with numbers?

Please don’t tell me this is a result of the rote learning that goes on in grade- and middle-school math classes, because I’m pretty sure that’s not what is happening at all. If that were true, I would have a room full of students who could divide fractions. But for some reason, most of them can’t, and don’t even know where to start.

I find it fascinating that students who have been looking at fractions from 3rd grade through 8th grade still can’t actually do anything with them. Yet I can ask adults over 35 how to add fractions and most can tell me. And do it. And I’m fairly certain they get the concept. There is something to be said for “traditional” methods and curriculum when looked at from this perspective.

Grade schools have been using Everyday Math and other incarnations for a good 5 to 10 years now, even more in some parts of the country. These are kids who have been taught the concept way before the algorithm, which is basically what the Common Core seems to promote. I have a 4th grade son who attends a school using Everyday Math. Luckily, he’s sharp enough to overcome the deficits inherent in the program. When asked to convert 568 inches to feet, he told me he needed to divide by 12, since he had to split the 568 into groups of 12. Yippee. He gets the concept. So I said to him, well, do it already! He explained that he couldn’t, since he only knew up to 12 times 12. But he did, after 7 agonizing minutes of developing his own iterated-subtraction-while-tallying system, tell me that 568 inches was 47 feet, 4 inches. Well, he got it right. But to be honest, I was mad; he could’ve done in a minute what ended up taking 7. And he already got the concept, since he knew he had to divide; he just needed to know how to actually do it. From my reading of the common core, that’s a great story. I can’t say I feel the same.

If Everyday Math and similar programs are what is in store for implementing the common core standards for math, then I think we will continue to see an increase in remedial math instruction in high schools and colleges. Or at least an increase in the clientele of the private tutoring centers, which do teach basic math skills.

Here is the problem with Everyday Math, it sets children AND TEACHERS up for failure.

This is a lousy program and math tutors like me get plenty of business when schools use these programs. I suspect for every teacher who loves it, they have plenty of kids either failing OR are in tutoring services.

Now when the school decides to replace the teacher with a computer program, don’t say you weren’t warned.

This program sets you up for failure and when that happens, Bill Gates gets to come in with his TECH buddies and put those kiddies on a computer to learn math the proper way.

You see, the Govt. must BREAK your LEG in order to hand you a crutch and say…SEE WE FIXED IT.

They set teachers up for failure with this program and then come in to save the day with Khan.

How to make teachers obsolete 101.

Another Math Teacher Speaks –

Today I participated in a math PD held in our state capitol. Before embarking on the actual content of the training session, the facilitator had teacher participants read related Common Core Standards. The quiet was broken by occasional gasps, sighs, and moans before the now oft repeated objections were verbalized.

We’ve read them before. Nothing new. And these were same old criticisms and objections that have been raised in previous math PD’s across the country, for sure.

Next, we looked at a few of the sample test items that would be used to asses the new standards.

Seriously??!!

The facilitator, wanting to keep us on track, I am sure, said, “Look, this is way it’s going. We need to get used to it, There is nothing we can do.”

Someone near me table called out, “Yes, there is!”

All eyes turned toward me. Did I just say that?

“What?” I was asked. “What can we do?”

“We are teachers, yes. But we don’t have to be passive – play the part of victims. We are also parents and citizens. We can opt our own children out of testing, and we can talk to friends and neighbors about doing the same. We need to use the power we have as citizens – not just teachers – to turn this around.”

One woman raised her arm with a clenched fist, and stated, “I like that!”

These few words from an “invisible” and “voiceless” teacher who has been empowered through this blog and others in realizing that she is not alone spoke out. It felt good. I just might do it again.

And again.

Thanks, Diane.

Civil disobedience is always a solution, so is using your power through the state legislature. In Indiana, we are close to halting the implementation of the Common Core Standards and related PARCC testing through our state legislature. Senate Bill 193 will stop the implementation and hit the “reset” button in order to allow a revision of the standards and get the input from the local teachers, parents, and newly elected Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz who defeated Dr. Tony Bennett in November.

Over 500 parents and teachers descended on the Statehouse for a rally to end the common core. We are demanding that education standards and testing remain under the governance of the people of our state. Improvements to our education system will only come from through solutions proposed by those who work closely with our children- not national standards and testing. Our momentum is high and a vote on the measure could happen as early as next Wednesday.

Visit our website at http://www.hoosiersagainstcommoncore.com

What changes to the status quo would you recommend? Would these changes result in the establishment of a web site opposing those changes?

I am not qualified to establish changes to the teaching profession status quo as an individual. The only proposition I would make is that testing and standards be developed and governed by the people closest to the situation. We have established a website which is a forum where research is presented and the public can view information presented outside the influence of corporate and special interests. Indiana has traded a superior set of internationally benchmarked standards for an expensive experimental educational fad with no field testing or credible data to prove the hope of student achievement. An educated parent can see the folly of this decision and fight for reason to prevail. We have had opposition through different media formats from Stand for Children and Students First. The Indianapolis and National Chamber of Commerce is deliberately misrepresenting information in an attempt to undermine our efforts. They can bring it, Hoosiers aren’t buying it.

So I assume you would be in favor of a curriculum designed by each school or teacher, as these are the people “closest to the situation”?

You forgot “or designed by each student” – can’t get closer than that.

Let’s be serious.

As a citizen-parent-teacher in a RTTT state, I have experienced the avalanche of meaningless “data”, wasteful spending, and actual decreased planning and instructional time that has been its result.

We are living “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

The real victims are the children.

I found that getting a math education for my son required him to go outside public education entirely.

So I assume you would adhere to “… love it, or leave it”?

I prefer “fix it”.

Problems with our educational system are not rooted in Common Core or RTTT, but neither will address its woes.

It is not really a matter of fixing it. It would be very expensive for our public schools here to have provided a suitable education for him and other gifted math students.

It is an injustice that any child is not served- including your son.

Students requiring a personal aide receive the service.

When students’ needs are not met, teachers are the first to know- and, in my experience, generally make the loudest noise.

He was taking an upper level graduate math course as a 16 year old high school senior. Not unique at his school, but rare enough that it would make little sense for the local school district to hire someone capable of teaching him.

I am familiar with one such situation, and firmly believe the school district should have assumed the responsibility of the logistics and expense of the class for your son.

While cases like these in particular are uncommon, the “particular” needs of students – at either end of the continuum- are the responsibility of the public/community school.

I have found myself in situations where I want so much for parents to demand what is right for their child. My pleas, as a teacher, are rebuffed- even scorned.

But parents- sometimes i think they have no idea of the power they posess.

I am in the odd position of defending my school district, but the last class he took as a high school senior was communative algebra, a Ph.D. leval graduate course taught by a full professor of mathamatics at a research 1 university. Outside of the two university towns in my state, I doubt a local school district could find anyone to teach the class even if they were willing to do it for a single student.

If a teacher, school or district has an effective curriculum, they should be allowed to continue it whether or not it conforms to the standardized common core curriculum. Schools should have a variety of testing options from which to choose to validate success. I believe this would allow for innovation and true “choice” amongst our schools.

That would certainly allow for a variety of approaches to education in our public schools, but unless the geographic admission standards used in traditional public schools change, having different approaches to education do the student little good. The students must learn using whatever approach has been adopted by the faculty member, school, or district to which they have been assigned.

The reason I say it is essential to teach your own child is because it is pointless to “roil the waters” and expect anything to happen in time to actually help your own child. Any advocacy of that nature should be kept out of the classroom and should be done for the next generation due to the cumbersome nature of public education.

I taught my children to respect the teacher and the authority that goes with the position. But we thought of Investigations and Connected Math as some secondary source of information and, yes, in some rare instances, a mild for of enrichment. But it was never the primary means of instruction. That was done at home. I never went into the classroom and met with the teachers only on designated conference days. I had no expectation that the teachers had any power except to do what they were supposed to do.

An added bonus was that my children gained confidence when the Investigations/CMP only students came to them in their “groups” . They spent a lot of time reteaching the material to their classmates.

I liked the story about the student who knew that he had to

divide, knew that a division problem could be solved by doing the

opposite of a multiplication, having the self-awareness to be aware

that he didn’t know his 12 times tables well enough to solve it

that way, and created HIS OWN CORRECT algorithm for solving the

problem. I think this is actually a MAJOR success of the math

education he has experienced…. My full response to this post is

here:

http://havingneweyes.com/2013/01/26/adults-can-calculate-with-fractions/

My student would have CREATED his own correct algorithm with the following problems using smaller numbers before he even heard the word division .

Jane uses 3 ounces for each hamburger . If she has 11 ounces of meat, how many burgers can she make.? I am sure he could answer this question easily as a third grader. Suggest making a picture also.

Then : If she has 18 ounces of meat how many burgers can she make?

Jane needs 6 ounces to make a mini meat loaf. If she has

18 ounces how many mini meat loaves can she make?

John uses 12 ounces of meat to make a large meatloaf. If

he has 27 ounces , how many meat loaves can he make? Any

meat left over? Not too hard .

John has 524 ounces of meatl. Can you find out how many

meat loaves he can make?

I bet you could, but it would take too long. That is why we are going to study division.

At this point the student has created his own algorithm for

DIVIDING without even knowing any division tables

But , like the above mother, I would be extremely upset if he encountered her above problem without a knowledge of division

and multiplication tables .

I research how secondary mathematics teachers and calculus students understand division and fractions. I can assure you that despite being able to compute answers to problems stated without context, most of the calculus students I speak to are unable to draw a picture to explain what division means. They also have notions about fractions such as they must be always less than one, and that division always makes smaller and multiplication makes bigger.

This really matters because division is the foundation of understanding rate of change which is essential to understand Calculus and how to apply it to real quantities in science classes. I’m actually taking graduate science classes in addition to my mathematics course work to make sure that I’m not just imagining that having a strong quantitative meaning for rate of change and division is important. I promise you that I see my Geophysics teacher using it every day. I’m not sure if Diane Ravich agrees with this poster, but I certainly hope she is aware that students come to college and high school(I taught high school math for four years) with very few meanings for the computations they know. And I think it is certainly possible that people have been taught how to multiply and divide fractions and forget when they don’t understand them. I know that I have taught students algorithms that they forget despite massive effort and practice on my part.

I’m not suggesting that we don’t teach algorithms or that kids don’t memorize their times tables. However, I think it is awesome that this fourth grader understands more about division than many of the Calculus students who I have interviewed. My results have been accepted to three math and math education conferences and I have video data and analysis to back up my claims.

Unable to draw a picture to illustrate division? Unbelievable!!

We’re they instructed that they could use small numbers rather than the numbers in the calculus problem?

I had good teachers back in the 1950″s. We were taught what division and multiplication were before we had to memorize the facts.

I taught DE math at a community college . My students were afraid of fractions .

Before I taught them how to do 6 : 1/2, I taught 6 : 2 using pictures( using : for div)

6 candy bars divided into groups of 2 gives us 3 groups

6 : 1/2. 6 candy bars divided into halves. How many halves .?

Use a picture of 6 bars. Divide each bar in half. Count the pieces.

I would never use algorithms until they understood what we were doing

They really had trouble with word problems using fractions.:

Mary has 27 yards of ribbon . It takes 3/4 yd. to make a belt.

How many belts can she make. Most of them would just multiply without thinking.

So I told them to temporarily pencil out the numbers and replace them with numbers that would make the problem easy for them:

Mary has 10 yards of ribbon. She needs 2 yards for each belt . How many belts

can she make? Even if you did this problem in your head, what did you do?

Did you multiply? Divide?

Now go back to the original problem and so the same thing.

I used compare and contrast with the same numbers.

1. John has 12 feet of rope. He wants to cut 3/4 of it to use in his garden. How

long will be the piece he cuts?

2. John has 12 feet of rope. He is cutting it into pieces each 3/4 feet long.

How many pieces will he have ?

Problem 1 uses. a. Division. b. addition. c. Multiplication

Problem 2. uses. a. Division. B. addition. c. Multliplication

Everyday Math is not Common Core. It has been around since long before people even began to discuss Common Core State Standards, let alone codify them.

Everyday Mathematics was created by the University of Chicago and promoted by Gates as far back as 2001.

http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/

http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/nsf.html

“In 2001, for example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation teamed up to award the San Diego Unified School District $22.5 million, but only under the condition that the school board retain its superintendent and chancellor of instruction so that they could institute educational ‘reforms.’ The two administrators required schools to use a controversial high school physics program, an ineffective reading framework for elementary school, and Everyday Mathematics, an NSF-funded, K-6 series not aligned to the state’s standards.[14] By the next school board election, both administrators had left the district, but San Diego school math scores had already declined relative to the state as a whole.”