kitchen table math, the sequel: Common Core State Standards

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Common Core State Standards

A draft of the Common Core State Standards has been posted by EdWeek.

Core State Standards Draft

The problem I have with the document (in math) is that it's called a "College and Career Readiness Standards for Mathematics", but it treats all K-12 students the same. Their target readiness goal seems to be the end of high school. If a student meets all of these goals, there is no guarantee that he/she is ready for all college degree programs.

For careers that require a college degree, the requirements are already defined. You can survey all college departments and determine what high school math courses (and SAT/ACT scores) are required for their program. You can ask them what level of math they expect from new students, and what top level math course is required. Students and parents don't need some sort of generic, one standard fits all, document or education. Students need to know exactly what level of math they need going into college and coming out of college, and they need to know it when they are still in K-8. Reaching some sort of generic requirement by the end of high school is not enough.

This is what bothers me a lot about education; it's statistical, not individual. Their goal is some sort of statistical best average math goal by the end of high school. I would like to see some sort of individual, what I like to call door-closing, analysis. For better or worse, one of the key points is getting to a proper algebra course in 8th grade and having access to the traditional set of math classes in high school. Of course, this is usually preceeded by some sort of tracking test in 6th grade. Focusing on what an average student needs by the end of high school allows schools to ignore major problems in K-8 math. They can push all issues back to high school and put the onus on the students.


Fer*Cambe said...

I think your point is well-made and I agree with your rejection of this stat-only approach. Did you check out the "School of One" argument over on Gotham Schools? School of One technology really tries to make specific math curricula (through statistics, I know!).

Non-statistical evaluations are so expensive right now though and we really have to work hard to build evaluations that have some point of comparison, are not totally quant, and are fair!

SteveH said...

One of the problems with the Common Core Standards is that it's not a curriculum. Schools will still give the math tracking test in 6th grade and still, only a small percentage will get on the traditional calculus math track in high school.

Our high school received kudos for its 9th grade algebra class with lab. They don't call it remedial, but that's what it is. More kids will get to the level defined by the Core Standards, but they will probably be at the peak of their math education curve, not at the beginning.

Catherine Johnson said...

This is what bothers me a lot about education; it's statistical, not individual.

When you first started writing about this, for some reason I didn't get it --- and I have learned the hard way.

Death by Data.

Group means.

I have ZERO interest in the 'statistical mean' as a "Common Core" national standard for math or anything else.


Speaking of Commmon Core, I glanced at the writing standards and they are a joke.

You might as well specify that by the end of senior year students should be able to fly.

Catherine Johnson said...

Without an airplane, I mean.