Common Core State [sic] Standards
463 in the collection
What’s a Math Educator to Do?
Michael Paul Goldenberg has a good comment at Rational Mathematics Education.
The first issue is mathematics teaching. I strongly agree with Garfunkel's statement that what people should do is "breathe new life into the 1989 Standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), which were never given a fair chance to succeed." I always felt NCTM gave up too easily.
The second issue is Garfunkel's dilemma: What does an expert do in the face of the fact that the Common Core State(sic) Standards are both a done deal and a disaster? I suspect many literacy experts are choosing the same path he chooses. . . continue working within the system and trying to do good.
I strongly disagree that it's the right path, but I am respectful of the dilemma. At least he is not keeping silent about how terrible the CCSS are, which is more than the literacy experts are doing.
by Sol Garfunkel
I feel like a schizophrenic. I truly think that the Common
Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) are a disaster.
I think that the high-stakes tests based on these
standards will stultify the mathematics curriculum for a
decade, curtailing any attempts at experimentation and
creativity. I think they will take us back to a time when
the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, i.e., when motivated
math students got ahead and weaker students just
dropped away, knowing little and content to tell anyone
who would listen that they were always bad in math.
They’re not the standards I would have written. In
the spirit of full disclosure, I was actually on the writing
team for CCSSM. Unfortunately they chose to use only
the prepositions I wrote—none of the nouns or verbs. I
have taken to writing blogs and op-ed pieces criticizing
CCSSM and calling for quite radical change. So why do I
feel like a schizophrenic? Because I am at the same time
working to make the implementation of the CCSSM be as
effective as possible!
I don’t think that this is hypocrisy. I really don’t. These
standards, the tests based on them, and the curricula
based on those tests based on those standards are going
to be with us for a long time. Teachers will be trained
in CCSSM both pre- and in-service, and a huge cohort of
students will go through the system that is evolving. It
will not be possible to be a U.S. mathematics educator—at
least for the next decade—and not be involved with the
implementation of CCSSM. I care about that generation of
kids. I care that they learn as much mathematics as they
can and that they learn to use that mathematics as they
go on—in school, in careers, as knowledgeable citizens,
and in their daily lives.
And so I will work with the assessment consortia. I will
sit on advisory boards for curriculum projects. I will write
reports to NSF and other funders talking about how to do
this “right”, even though in my heart of hearts I wished
they’d tear these standards up and start from scratch or,
better yet, breathe new life into the 1989 Standards of
the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM),
which were never given a fair chance to succeed. In fact,
it is the lesson of the “math wars” that helps to make me
as divided as I am. In the 1990s critics of those standards
simply threw rocks. The fact that 10+ years of attacks did
nothing to help the mathematics education of so many
children was not their concern. In their eyes their cause
was just and therefore sacrifices had to be made.
I am not so cavalier. I have strong and fervent beliefs
that CCSSM is wrong-headed, and I will say so in public. But
I will also work to make the emerging system as positive
an experience for teachers and students as possible. And
I know I’m not alone. It is always easier to criticize and be
cynical. It is harder to roll up one’s sleeves and get to work.
So I will remain a schizophrenic, work for students and
teachers to learn what mathematics they can, and work
for the day that our standards come back to their senses.
Solomon Garfunkel is Executive Director,
Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications
Notices of the AMS
August 01, 2012
Index of Common Core [sic] Standards
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