kitchen table math, the sequel: How many Common Core standards are there?

## Wednesday, June 12, 2013

### How many Common Core standards are there?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that learning one thing per day should be doable.

Jen said...

dAnonymous -- so, say, multiplication facts -- one day? Fractions have how many concepts involved? Divvied up by how many years?

There are concepts that have to be presented and practiced many, many times before they really can be considered "learned."

Standards aren't discrete bits of knowledge, either. Depending on how a test is formulated, the same student could look very "advanced" or way "below basic."

allison said...

re: math standards: MN's 2007 math standards are vague. So vague that they then wrote "benchmarks" to explain the standards, and then "sample items" to show a typical question that benchmark illustrates.

Here's an example of one of the MN grade 6 standards for the number and operation strand:
"Read, write, represent and compare positive rational numbers expressed as fractions, decimals, percents
and ratios; write positive integers
as products of factors; use these
representations in real-world and
mathematical situations."

Here's just one of the benchmarks for that standard out of 7:
"Determine equivalences among fractions, decimals and percents; select among these representations to solve problems."

MN grade 6 has 30+ benchmarks. They are not clear enough to define lessons from for most teachers, so the textbooks still do that.

CC was an attempt to write something much less open to interpretation, leaving less to the imagination. A far more prescriptive set of standards that is closer to a curriculum that other standard have been--telling much more "this is the way to teach this concept" than in the past.

The ELA world may be vastly different. Were standards requirements there in the past?

SATVerbalTutor. said...

Is it actually necessary to teach all the standards separately, or is it possible to cover them more holistically? I'm all for explicit instruction, but I have the impression that teachers sometimes get confronted with a huge list of standards/skills/themes, etc. to be covered on a test and freak out thinking that they have to deal with every single one when in fact they would pretty much all get included naturally if they were just to teach the content really well. I think it's possible to teach so that students will be ready for a test without actually letting teaching devolve into test-prep -- hard but possible. My sense is that CC is flexible enough to allow for that sort of approach since it doesn't actually dictate the curriculum, only the standards, but maybe I'm mistaken?

SteveH said...

It ultimately depends on who creates the test. I see the following players:

PARCC - I've already commented that they (on purpose) do not deal with STEM development and that their highest level PLD ("distinguished") only means that a student should be able to pass a college algebra course.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium - I don't know much about them.

ACT / PLAN / Explore / Aspire - They seem to be getting a number of state "wins"; some states even dropping PARCC to go with them. At least they have data to calibrate results with college at all levels. They won't call "distinguished" something that would lead to a 17 on their high school ACT test.

College Board - SAT / AP / PSAT / ReadiStep / Pre-AP. They seem to be behind (in marketing) than ACT, but they have the data and credentials on the high side of the bell curve. They also might provide better data in the early grades about whether students are on a STEM track or not.

Am I missing any other ones?

There is also the question of what the results will mean when you compare these different tests. How do you define standards? What happens to states, schools, and students if they don't meet some sort of number? Do they need to see this number to know that there is a problem?

Many students and parents ignore state tests starting from the earliest grades. They know that those tests won't tell them anything. Even a test like the ACT may not give great feedback. It depends on how they calibrate the grading in the earlier grades with the high school ACT scores. It might be easy to get a high ACT score in the early grades, but to get the same grade in high school might require a lot of help at home or with tutors.

We never cared about our state testing at any grade level. By high school, other tests, like the SAT/PSAT became more meaningful. Those and your GPA. My son took the junior year state tests and I don't ever care to see the results. I'm waiting to see his SAT II results next week.

SteveH said...

In terms of the number of standards, think of it backwards. Take all of the books (or lesson plans) a school uses and start writing standards. You could come up with a lot, but they would probably be translated into fuzzy words like understand and show.

The standard will be defined by the test questions and the number of questions one has to get correct to meet some low cutoff proficiency level. The standards might sound difficult, but only the test and proficiency level will be important. That level will be so low that the seemingly difficult standards will be meaningless for many students. For those who could answer the more difficult questions, that material might be less useful. In the AP classes my son is taking, the teachers have to match up their material to the CCSS standards. Duh, the AP class has it's own standard, so the teachers just map the CCSS standards to the AP standards any which way. One of his teachers got so pissed off that he made all of the students find CCSS standards that matched what they did for homework. They got graded on it. It's all silliness, of course. It's like they are following some process by rote with no understanding.