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?