Reading & Literacy

UPDATED: Math Groups Team Up to Offer Common-Standards Help

By Catherine Gewertz — September 12, 2011 3 min read
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Those of you who feel a yawning gap between the common-core standards and your readiness to teach them might be interested in another update. Major mathematics education organizations have teamed up with common-core folks to form a group that will offer help to educators in making the transition to common standards.

Announced last week, the Mathematics Common Core Coalition (catchy name, right?) is composed of the bigger alphabet-soup groups: the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics), the NCSM (National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics), the AMTE (Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators), and the ASSM (Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics). (Try reciting that backwards. Sorry; I just suggested that to uncross my eyes.)

The Council of Chief State School Officers, a membership group that represents state superintendents of education, and which was a driving force behind the common standards, is also involved. So are both of the state consortia that have federal funding to design assessments for the new standards. Remember them? They are the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). [UPDATE (Sept. 14): The National Governors Association, which partnered with the CCSSO on the common-standards initiative, is now on board as well, the NCTM tells me.]

NCTM has set up a special section on its website to host the new group. The site appears to be in the early stages of stocking its pages, but it does have links to resources from the member groups that could prove useful. It lists, for instance, a link to the NCTM’s “Making it Happen,” about moving to the common core, and information about a fall seminar by the NCTM on transitioning to the math common standards. Its professional-development page lists a number of resources, as well, including webinars and e-seminars. The site also has a few dead links, unfortunately, which I’m sure math folks would appreciate being fixed soon. (One of the dead links is supposed to go to a primer on what the assessment consortia are doing, something that would be pretty darn useful for folks to see.)

Separately, the ASCD is offering a daylong session on transitioning to the common standards (not just in math, but English/language arts, too). The session is part of itsfall institute, which is in Memphis, Tenn., Nov. 9-11. The common-standards workshop will be all day on Nov. 9.

See my blog posts from last week, too, (here and here) about the evolving picture of resources for teachers looking for help implementing the common standards. I started blogging about this in the wake of a webinar EdWeek hosted that featured two districts’ work to implement the new standards. (Watch the archived version and/or download the Power Point presentations here.) We were flooded with requests for help finding curriculum and instructional resources for this transition.

It pointed up what seems to be a troublesome lag time between the availability of help and the need for it. One teacher, who is now working with his district to design curriculum for the new standards, wrote to me to say this:

“Teachers are struggling, and very few people are helping. We have 130 weeks to get kids ready for new [common] assessments, and almost nothing is available for them to use—outside of resources developed by the [common standards] work-team members. ... Where is everyone else? It is frustrating, and teachers and students will pay the consequence. Further, there is no money to send me to conferences so I am absolutely dependent on what is free on the Internet.”

How many educators out there are feeling this way? Chime in! How much support is your district or state providing as you move toward teaching the common standards? How difficult or easy is it to assemble good, solid resources (content and pedagogy) for this? Let’s hear from you!

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