Monday, July 27, 2015

Problems with Common Core Math

Wayne Bishop PhD.  who taught at Cal State LA and worked with Jaime "Stand and Deliver" Escalante's high school kids,  puts forth these thoughts.

Youngsters who struggle with math simply need their teachers to show them how to do the math and then practice themselves how to do it—a lot! Why is such instruction so hard for them to come by?

The question may have been rhetorical but the answer is obvious and, regrettably, endorsed nationally by Common Core-Math.  The “professional” math ed industry has had a love affair with Constructivism for decades so teachers are taught and centrally-approved math curricula reflects heavy emphasis on small learning groups using manipulatives with everybody - even the “facilitator” (as opposed to knowledgeable teacher teaching) - discovering heretofore unknown mathematics including a variety of equally-valued computational algorithms.  A naïve mathematician can read the chapter, that is an immediate preamble to all actual math content specifications, Standards for Mathematical Practice, and exclaim, “Right on!”  Having first worked with its primary author and one of the three primary authors of the entire CCSS-M almost 30 years ago, Phil Daro, my immediate reaction was, “We’re dead.  From here on, everything is rearranging deck chairs.”  That is, in spite of the language, it will be interpreted exactly as he intended that it be interpreted, a national endorsement for Constructivism.

  Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute recently nailed it in his “Implementing CCSS-M”:

From the Conclusion

In the study of numbers, a coherent K-12 math curriculum, similar to that of the previous California and Massachusetts frameworks, can be sketched in a few short sentences.  Addition with whole numbers (including the standard algorithm) is taught in first grade, subtraction in second grade, multiplication in third grade, and division in fourth grade.  Thus, the study of whole number arithmetic is completed by the end of fourth grade.  Grades five through seven focus on rational numbers (fractions, decimals, percentages), and grades eight through twelve study advanced mathematics.  Proficiency is sought along three dimensions:  1) fluency with calculations, 2) conceptual understanding, 3) ability to solve problems.

 ‘It is true that standards, any standards, cannot control implementation, especially the twists and turns in how they are interpreted by educators and brought to life in classroom instruction. But in this case, the standards themselves are responsible for the myriad approaches, many unproductive, that we are sure to see as schools teach various algorithms under the Common Core.”

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