To the Editor:
William Schmidt illuminates an often-overlooked fact in his Commentary. He points out that, while we can have confidence that the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can improve mathematics learning, we cannot be as sure that we, “as a nation, have the commitment to ensure that it does.” Mr. Schmidt points, in particular, to the dilemma created for teachers juggling the common-core standards, textbooks, and state assessments. If these three are not coherently connected, a teacher’s job becomes exponentially more challenging.
Tight budgets and policy uncertainty are leading too many schools and districts to ask teachers to make do with their existing teaching materials. And the prevailing one-size-fits-all approach in educational publishing is leading to new “CCSS compliant” versions of textbooks that are little more than the same-old, same-old dressed up in a new cover.
We wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Schmidt’s admonition that we, as a nation, must do what it takes to seize the chance for improved mathematics learning. This requires us to provide schools and educators with a coherent, coordinated implementation plan that aligns standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
Further, it requires us to supply teachers with teaching materials that embody the same coordination and coherence and have an instructional sequence and approach that fits the standards, the assessments, the students, and the instructional contexts.
We look forward to “seizing the moment.”
Vice President for Education
A version of this article appeared in the August 08, 2012 edition of Education Week as Writer Applauds Math Commentary