Journal Hosts Debate on Merits of Common Math Standards

By Erik W. Robelen — February 16, 2012 1 min read
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Although most states have adopted the common-core math standards, the debate over their value is by no means over. Today, the journal Education Next published a forum that brought together two experts to take up the matter.

In one corner, W. Stephen Wilson, a math professor at Johns Hopkins University who served on the “feedback group” for the math standards. In the other, Ze’ev Wurman, a Silicon Valley executive and former education official under President George W. Bush who served on a California commission that evaluated the suitability of the common standards for that state.

Here’s a quick taste of what they had to say.

Are the standards “fewer, higher, and clearer?”

Wurman: “Common-core standards may in fact be clearer and more demanding than many, though not all, of the state standards they replaced. ... If one compares them to the better state mathematics standards like those of Minnesota or California, they are more numerous. ... They may be higher than some state standards, but they are certainly lower than the best of them. ... They may be clearer than many state mathematics standards, but they still tend to be wordy and hard to read.”

Wilson: “There is much to criticize about [the math standards], and there are several sets of standards, including those in California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, and Washington, that are clearly better. Yet common core is vastly superior—not just a little bit better, but vastly superior—to the standards in more than 30 states.”

Wurman and Wilson fielded a number of other questions from the editors at Education Next, including whether the common standards will put an end to the “math wars” and how the standards compare with those of the world’s top-performing nations. You can read it all here.

Of course, you can also read the math standards for yourself right here, and draw your own conclusions.

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