Science

Parents’ Group Sees Good and Bad in Draft Math Standards (Updated)

By Sean Cavanagh — October 22, 2009 1 min read

A coalition of parents interested in promoting high-quality math instruction says the draft of common, multistate standards gets some things right, but is off the mark in a couple key areas.

The U.S. Coalition for World Class Math, by its description, supports giving students a strong grounding in procedural math skills, which it believes will also lead to their acquisition of “conceptual skill,” or higher-order thinking. It says its members include state coalitions of mathematicians, engineers, and others with strong math backgrounds, a collection of voices, the group says, is often neglected in developing math standards and curricula.

While “needing some work,” the draft math standards “are substantially well written,” it says. “If these standards are to serve as the forerunner of future K-12 grade-by-grade objectives and standards, however, we believe more clarity is needed and [we] made suggestions for improving the discussions and the standards themselves.”

Update: Barry Garelick, of the math coalition, says my initial post did not adequately describe his group’s concerns about the draft standards. And after re-reading their position, I see his point. The coalition worries that the standards do not do enough to address the math standards that students who are interested in pursuing math and science careers, or advanced studies, will have to meet. "[A]ppropriate standards must be developed for them,” they write, “so that teachers, school administrators, and textbook publishers can develop appropriate courses of instruction for STEM-intending students.” The coalition also argues that the draft places too much emphasis on statistics, probability, and math modeling, which it says aren’t as essential for college readiness as other topics. I’ve changed the headline and first line to reflect this point. See Garelick’s comment below, or the link, above, for more detail.

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