Opinion
Standards Letter to the Editor

Math Standards: Too Much What, Too Little How?

August 10, 2010 1 min read

To the Editor:

In regard to “States Adopt Standards at Fast Clip” (July 14, 2010):

It seems that the Common Core State Standards Initiative’s focus on content is an exercise in smoke and mirrors. In the project’s final document, released June 2, the Standards for Mathematical Content are not that radically different from any state standards, even states’ whose students are achieving at lesser levels. The real standards, those that matter, are contained in the document, but largely ignored. They can be found in the section on Standards for Mathematical Practice, and detail what a proficient student behaves like in the classroom.

These standards, describing mathematical proficiency and the processes through which it is achieved, are what we should be pursuing by changes in the pedagogy of teachers. Only when teachers support students in making sense of content and using reasoning to personally, socially, and collectively investigate engaging problems will we be able to produce high achievement. That should be the focus of the standards.

The mathematics-proficiency standards are wonderful and reflect the research literature on how students learn best. The National Research Council report “Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics” also details mathematical proficiency—conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, strategic competence, adaptive reasoning, and productive disposition. The latter is described as the “habitual inclination to see mathematics as sensible, useful, and worthwhile, coupled with a belief in diligence and one’s own efficacy.”

Wouldn’t it be advantageous for our country to have citizens who believe in their own, personal mathematical competence, rather than making the sign of the cross before they tackle anything resembling mathematics as adults? Please spend some time investigating and reporting on the much deeper issue of students’ embracing mathematics, instead of focusing too much on the new content hoops we are asking kids to jump through.

Frazer Boergadine

Vice President of Programs

Math Learning Center

Salem, Ore.

A version of this article appeared in the August 11, 2010 edition of Education Week as Math Standards: Too Much What, Too Little How?

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Opinion Common Core Is a Meal Kit, Not a Nothingburger
Caroline Damon argues Rick Hess and Tom Loveless sold the common core short, claiming the issue was a matter of high-quality implementation.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards How New Common Core Research Connects to Biden's Plans for Children and Families
A study of national test scores indicate the early phase of the Common Core State Standards did not help disadvantaged students.
5 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty
Standards Opinion After All That Commotion, Was the Common Core a Big Nothingburger?
The Common Core State Standards may not have had an impact on student outcomes, but they did make school improvement tougher and more ideological.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards New Media Literacy Standards Aim to Combat 'Truth Decay'
The RAND Corporation has released a set of media literacy standards designed to help teach students to identify misinformation.
6 min read
Visual shows a young woman lying down and watching live news content on her mobile phone.
gorodenkoff/iStock/Getty Images Plus