College & Workforce Readiness

California Panel Scrutinizes Common Standards

By Catherine Gewertz — July 13, 2010 1 min read
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If you find it interesting to track the common-standards movement, you might want to cast your eye toward the West Coast. Things are getting interesting in California. (Remember, we warned you about this.)

A newly appointed commission in California is charged with reviewing the common standards and making recommendations to the State Board of Education. By the time the dinner hour rolls around on Thursday, they’re supposed to have made their recommendations.

The math standards are getting a whole lot of attention in those discussions, because of the sensitivity around the Algebra-1-in-8th-grade question. (You might recall that California has been rubbed raw on this issue; two years ago, the state decided to require all 8th graders to take Algebra 1, a move that sparked a court challenge.)

The California Mathematics Council has been keeping a close watch on the panel’s discussions and weighing in. John Fensterwald, who writes the Educated Guess blog in California, has been tracking the panel’s sessions there as well. You can review materials the panel has considered in its deliberations here.

The state also did its own “crosswalk” between California standards and the common core, as we’ve noted before. EdSource, which tracks education policy in California, examined the state’s issues around common-core math in a recent report, as well (see page 13 for that part).

You can get a sense of at least some of the commission’s discussion on the math questions by looking at a report that two of the commissioners submitted for the consideration of their fellow panel members. Ze’ev Wurman and Bill Evers, who have been critical of the common standards, made a 50-page chart detailing all the ways they think the math standards would need to be revised. So you get the sense that a Kumbaya spirit might not have been the defining characteristic of the panel’s sessions.

The math portion of the standards has been sparking questions in other places, too. Word is that Minnesota, whose math standards are considered to be among the best, has decided to adopt the English but not the math standards. The U.S. Coalition for World Class Math posted a review of the final common-core math recently and found it “extremely disturbing.” Them’s fightin’ words.

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