Common Core Standards

The New York Times recently posted an article about the newly released Common Core Standards from the State Standards Initiative.

I spent some time reviewing the math standards and really appreciated that the standards were clear and concise. The summary for each grade fits easily on one page. The longer versions of the standards use plain English and plenty of examples. They are also clear on when a skill should be introduced and when it should be mastered. For example kindergartners are expected to solve addition and subtraction word problems with totals less than 10 using objects or drawings. First graders are expected to do this fluently. Second graders are expected to be able to do addition and subtraction up to 20 in their heads.

I also liked the focus on base 10 and place value. I hear from teachers and read in research that understanding place value is vital to success in mathematics. It makes a lot of sense. The standard algorithms use place value (borrowing, carrying, adding a zero in multiplication, etc). But place value also is used extensively in science. Scientific notation, order of magnitude, and significant figures all have place value concepts at their root.

It will be interesting to see where the common standards go from here. Past efforts to unify curriculum and standards across states have been controversial. Some students and teachers will benefit from common standards but local control of curriculum also has many advantages. Maybe these particular standards have the right balance between local control and common, high, expectations.

What do you think? Are the new standards good? Do you want your local school to adopt them?

  • It’s interesting that at the kindergarten level you see the new core standards as clear and concise. I just participated in a seminar that is one of only 15 in the nation looking at the gaps that need to be filled between high school and college standards, and one of the things we looked at was the relationship between our current standards and the new core standards. We found that the core standards in the secondary level are not easily implemented because they are not broken down according to course. Additionally, some of the power indicators of the middle school standards have dramatically changed in regards to where they are to be introduced and mastered.
    At this point we feel that the best way to make students successful is through professional collaboration grades 6-12 to supplement the gaps that currently exist and realign our curriculum to the new standards. One major problem: What do we do in the meantime to help students succeed on our Ohio Academic Achievement Tests while still transitioning to the new core standards? Especially when some of the new core standards switch grades from where they are currently taught.