Chatting About the Draft Common Standards in Math

By Catherine Gewertz — January 19, 2010 1 min read
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The common academic standards in math are still in the nonpublic draft stage, but that doesn’t stop people from talking about them. They were the featured topic of a panel discussion at the annual joint meetings of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America in San Francisco this past weekend.

One of the panelists, William McCallum, tells me that the idea was to facilitate a lively discussion among panelists and attendees about the proposed standards. The organizers thought the draft would be public by the time of the meeting this past Saturday. But the timeline slipped a bit, so when the meeting rolled around, the only folks who’d seen the draft were on the panel. (McCallum, who heads the University of Arizona’s math department and is a member of the “work group” that’s developing the standards, shared it with fellow panelists on a confidentiality pledge. The panel’s moderator, Lawrence Gray, also serves on the work group.)

McCallum says that he got some useful feedback on the draft from the other panelists: math-textbook author Scott Baldridge of Louisiana State University; the University of Minnesota’s Bert Fristedt, and Robin Ramos, a teacher at a Los Angeles elementary school.

From the panelists, McCallum says he heard a strain of concern that the draft K-12 standards may be “a bit too ambitious,” which he found intriguing, since some of the criticism of the “college and career-ready” standards released earlier, he says, was that they were not ambitious enough to adequately prepare students contemplating STEM careers.

California journalist John Fensterwald was at the meeting, and blogs about it here. Since he was there, he offers a more bracing account of the meeting than I could.

McCallum says more feedback on the math portion of the draft standards is expected from additional math groups. State education chiefs are reviewing and providing feedback on the entire K-12 draft, and the common-standards organizers are hoping for a public release in early February. A revised draft will be posted once feedback from the first draft is considered.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.