Several weeks ago, I offered an explanation for the Common Core for language arts. Today, I’d like to focus on math. The standards are supposed to be in place during this school year. According to the Teaching Channel website, which presents videos on a number of topics related to the new standards, the Common Core for math “aims to present fewer topics each grade to allow students to work more slowly and focus on a particular concept.” Jason Zimba, one of the writers for Common Core math, explains that the standards in elementary school, called domains, “Will give students more time to focus and internalize concepts.” These domains include:
- Operations & algebraic thinking
- Numbers and Operations in Base 10
- Measurement & Data
The main operations for grades 1 and 2 are addition and subtraction, while those for grades 3 and 4 are multiplication and division. Grades 3 through 5 add fractions to the list. with increasing sophistication included at each grade level. Solving word problems involving money begins in second grade, with an “emphasis on practical applications.” Will the standards provide opportunities for capable students to advance to the next set of standards prior to entering the next grade?
While the standards provide the “what” of the curriculum, teachers provide the “how.” Thus, actual implementation depends upon the administration and faculty of district and schools. How motivated will teachers be to adhere to these new standards?
The answer to that might be how engaged they are in their profession. Education Week recently featured the results of a Gallup poll survey that indicates that approximately 30% of classroom teachers are ‘actively engaged’ in their jobs, after six months to a year. “For educators with between six months and a year of teaching, professional engagement is at 35.1 percent. But that figure goes down to 30.9 percent for teachers who have been on the job for one to three years, and it continues to drop for teachers in their third to fifth year. At more than 10 years, there’s a slight bump back upwards, bringing engagement to 31.8 percent.”
Good teachers (those within that 30% range) have already been implementing high standards for their students without the mandate of the Common Core. Let’s raise the standards for everyone!