Friday, January 20, 2012

The Common Core Standards in Math


The Common Core State Standards in mathematics (and reading) were released in June 2010. Launched by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core Standards represent a set of expectations for student knowledge and skills that high school graduates need to master to succeed in college and careers. As of this writing, the majority of states have formally adopted these standards.

As a classroom teacher of mathematics, I have experience with various curricula and math standards. In fact, when I first started teaching in the early 1990's, the NCTM had released a new set of standards. I also had the opportunity to participate in a curriculum writing project for a school district where I taught.

When I first learned of the Common Core Standards (CCSM), I was skeptical. At first glance, the CCSM seemed to be just another set of standards that math teachers would have to grapple with. However, having taken a closer look, I now believe that the CCSM could be the most successful standards ever embraced!

I explored the standards myself through by aligning my lessons to the standards for Grade 3. Next, I created a related standards for each unit of instruction. For example, For Unit 1, Perimeter and Area of Polygons, you can view related standards for that unit. It took some time, but I managed to create a set of related standards for each of my 14 units of instruction. This when I became excited about the ease and the transition of the CCSM, at least the domain mapping.

I attended a webinar about the CCSM. I learned that:

  1. A small writing team created these standards, eliminating the politics that are usually associated with such projects.
  2. The structure of the standards is by domains, not strands.
  3. There is a focus on both conceptual understanding and computation.
  4. These standards are intended for all states, removing the difficult separation across state lines.
  5. There is a large advisory board to ensure that the needs of all states are addressed.
  6. The CCSM will be a work-in-progress in which time is taken by the creators to reflect upon and improve these standards.

I am excited about the CCSM and hope you will join me as we explore together!