Bill Gates: OK. So what is the Common Core? It’s a very simple thing. It’s a written explanation of what knowledge kids should achieve at very various milestones in their educational career. So it’s writing down in sixth grade which math things should you know, in ninth grade which math things should you know, in twelfth grade which math things should you know.I haven't read the math standards start to finish, and I probably won't. (I'm working on the ELA standards, Appendix A in particular.)
Ze’ev Wurman: That, indeed, is what content standards are supposed to be.
BG: And you might be surprised to learn how poor those I’ll call those standards, but to be clear, it’s not curriculum. It’s not a textbook. It’s not a way of teaching. It’s just writing down should you know this part of algebra? Should you know trigonometric functions? Should you know be able to recognize a graph of this type?
ZW: Wrong. I wish Mr. Gates would actually read the standards rather than rely on what others tell him. Common Core standards are more than just content standards, they also dictate pedagogy and hence curriculum. Here are a couple of obvious examples.
“Grade 1 standard 1.OA.6: Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (e.g., 8 + 6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (e.g., 13 – 4 = 13 – 3 – 1 = 10 – 1 = 9); using the relationship between addition and subtraction (e.g., knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one knows 12 – 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums (e.g., adding 6 + 7 by creating the known equivalent 6 + 6 + 1 = 12 + 1 = 13).”
This standard does not require only knowing addition and subtraction within 20, as a content standard should. It insists on knowing four specific ways to add and subtract. In other words, it dictates pedagogy and curriculum.
Bill Gates Needs an Education on Common Core
Nevertheless, I think it's fair to observe that a "standard" instructing teachers to "use strategies such as counting on..." is more than just a content standard. Quite a bit more.
Unfortunately, in the context of American public schools, the word "strategies" means something quite different from what it does outside of public education.
Within public education strategies is a formal term for guide-on-the-sidery.
I remember being semi-gobsmacked, a decade ago, sitting in on a CSE meeting and hearing the word "strategies" repeatedly used to describe the district's approach to educating children with behavioral and/or learning difficulties. The student in question that day, a 5th grader with emotional and behavioral problems, was going to be given "strategies" he could use to stop acting the way he was acting and start acting the way the other kids were acting.
In another meeting, the same psychologist said a child with dyslexia would be given "strategies" she could use to read.
She wouldn't be taught to read; at least, that wasn't the focus.
Instead, she would be given strategies she could deploy, as needed (the child was to be the judge of that), to help herself read better than she was reading now.
Even then, before I'd delved into all these things, I knew it was all rubbish.
A 10-year old with emotional and behavior problems isn't going to use "strategies" to stop having outbursts, and a 10-year old with dyslexia isn't going to use "strategies" to read at grade level.