kitchen table math, the sequel: National Standards (CCSSI)

Friday, March 19, 2010

National Standards (CCSSI)

The high school math standards seem to me to leave a whole lot to be desired - far below our current expectations for college preparedness.

If you have the time, compare these standards to the Major Topics of School Algebra in the National Mathematics Advisory Panel's Report, then take a look at current ACT math content.

Wurman and Stotsky: New Standards will set schools back
[They must be talking about me!]
High school math teachers will look in vain for course standards in Algebra II, pre-calculus, or trigonometry. The drafters deem algebra, which the prestigious National Math Advisory Panel identified as the key to higher math study, as an outdated organizing principle.

You can find CCSSI standards HERE

Comments are due to CCSSI by April 2, but you might also consider posting them publicly somewhere else.

More information available HERE


SteveH said...

Well, I haven't changed my mind. It's just awful, not only on what it says, but what it doesn't. It doesn't address the problems of math education. It just defines content, and it does that very badly.

Up through 8th grade, math is defined one way for all kids. they don't say a word about the common practice of separating kids starting in 7th grade. Does this mean that they have defined a strong standard for all kids that will send them off to high school prepared for any future goals in math.


It does talk about two content tracks for math in high school; Career and College Readiness, and STEM. But instead of laying out the two paths by actual courses to be taken, they try to do it by just defining different content groups:

1. Number and quantity
2. Algebra
3. Functions
4. Modeling
5. Statistics and Probability
6. Geometry

Each group has a list of things to know. They say nothing about how the topics should be grouped into courses. Win one for the integrated math series.

To be able to see how well the topics match up to the traditional Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus sequence, you would have to painstakingly go through their list and match it up to the books the high school is currently using. It also says nothing about depth or performance expectations for each topic.

To see how little they care, section 3 for Functions has a big empty section for the following:

Differential Calculus
Applications of Deriatives
Integral Calculus
Applications of Integration
Infinite Series

They say: "Specific standards for calculus domains are not listed"

So, the standard lists all sorts of content topics, many of which are marked with "STEM", but there is no indication about how and whether a school can offer the top STEM material to students who haven't had more math (Algebra I) by the time they get to high school.

I don't even like the standard in a "It's better than what we have now." kind of way.

SteveH said...

"High school math teachers will look in vain for course standards in Algebra II, pre-calculus, or trigonometry"

Even if the teachers pore through the individual topics and try to match them up with textbooks, such as Algebra II, they will find that the standard gives them less information than they already know. In fact, it will inform them that they could remove topics and weaken expectations.

STEM career content is already very well defined by the traditional line-up of math courses. This standard provides no new information. The workplace analysis supported by the standard could have determined exactly what kind of math classes were needed for specific college degree requirements, but they didn't do that. They looked at sample jobs without any consideration for the college math required to get the job. In many cases, the math required for a needed degree is much higher than the math they will actually see on the job.

They are bound and determined to ignore reality.

At best, the standard will force states to improve their low end math expectations. However, this doesn't fix the problems of K-8 math. It ignores them. Kids will still be spiraled through the material and blamed if they don't figure it out. They will be pumped into high school thinking that there is still a chance for a STEM career, but it will already be "Game Over".

Schools already know this. They will still separate kids in math starting in 7th grade. Many schools will offer a real algebra course in 8th grade, and most all high schools will continue to offer Geometry in 9th grade that leads to calculus as a senior. That is the real STEM standard no matter what the CCSSI says.

Anne Dwyer said...

My friend called me with some interesting information on her district's math sequence. It seems, (she didn't know this), that if you want to get into AP Calculus as a senior, you must take Geometry and Algebra II in freshman year at the same time. Has anyone every heard of this before? So any student who did not do this (or didn't have room for it), game over. So now she is trying to decide what course he could take at the local community college that would equate to Algebra II in high school.

Catherine Johnson said...


how can that be?

(And hi, Anne! Good to hear from you!)

Catherine Johnson said...

Hogwarts doesn't have AP calculus BC (I'm guessing that the kids who are really good in math may take college calculus in the university that is associated with the school).

They have AP calculus AB & they teach it over 1 1/2 school years, starting in the middle of junior year.

C. took Algebra 2 in freshman year, geometry this year.

Next year it's TLC: trig, logarithms, and calculus.

The AP portion of the course begins mid-year.

SteveH said...

"must take Geometry and Algebra II in freshman year "

I've never heard of this. Is this AP Calc BC? Most schools go from geometry to algebra II to pre-calc and then some form of calc. Our high school only has AP calc AB. Maybe they define a more rigorous sequence. I can't imagine.

momof4 said...

I don't understand why it takes three full semesters to get through AP calc AB, if the kids have had real pre-calc (and it sounds as if they have). Calc AB is the equivalent of one semester of college calc and high schools usually spread it over a whole year. Calc BC is a full year of college calc; I could understand the reasoning for spreading BC over 3 HS semesters (although I've never heard of a school doing that-the assumption is that kids taking BC can do it in a year), but I don't understand spending that much time on AB. I can't see that as a very rigorous option. Do other schools do this? Also, what kind of scores do the kids in this school get on the AB calc AP exam?

concerned said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
concerned said...

Math Content Specifics: Almost all standards involving complex numbers are marked "stem" THEY ARE ASSESSED ON THE ACT EXAM because this is currently BASIC ALGEBRA 2 content!

Or how about expecting students to solve a BASIC equation of the form a^x = b ALGEBRAICALLY?

(Nope, not expected - better BUY MORE CALCULATORS, hopefully they'll be made in the USA!)

Crimson Wife said...

My alma mater's sequence for honors math when I went through used to be geometry in 9th, algebra II in 10th, trig in 11th, and calculus in 12th. Now the top kids do both geometry and algebra II in 9th, trig in 10th, AP calculus in 11th, and "post-AP math" in 12th. I'm not sure what exactly is covered in that but I think it might be linear algebra.