Accountability Common Core Education Reform Failure Testing

K-12 Teacher: Why I Oppose the Common Core Math Standards

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This anonymous K-12 teacher wrote an extended explanation of why he or she opposes the Common Core mathematics standards. The essay was a guest post in David Kristofferson’s blog.

The teacher writes that the math standards

claim to stress “deep understanding” in addition to procedure, which sounds like a good thing at first, until you take a closer look at how this goal is actually approached. To call what they focus on “understanding” is both misleading and wrong, and there’s a clear trend showing persistent loss of procedural proficiency among our students as a result. The end result of the Common Core-aligned math curriculum is STEM-deficiency rather than STEM-proficiency. It is now a generally accepted fact that only honors compression or outside tutoring will achieve the STEM-readiness that used to be accessible to any motivated and capable student.

They fail to prepare students for college math.

I have met too many administrators who’ve swallowed the Common Core proponents’ story hook, line, and sinker. When asked about issues related to the worsening trend of poor student comprehension and poor knowledge transfer from one context to another, they insist that it cannot be happening under the new standards and the greater “depth of understanding” that they embody. Meanwhile, they are dismissive of objections coming from parents, teachers, and students on the ground.

Many parents see the performance of their children dropping not only in math, but also with spelling and grammar[9], and they are frustrated about it. They object that they can no longer help their children with or even understand the math homework that is being assigned, while students lose valuable elective classroom time to all the required standardized testing. The same administrators who dismiss these parents for their questioning of all the canned verbiage about the benefits of the new standards (and there is a whole lot of it, indeed) have also balked when teachers expressed frustration with being forced to do away with their well-established and vetted curricular materials as the wheels of education are being reinvented right under their feet.

When Common Core first took hold, there was enough missing curricular material to explain the early drops in student performance. (The very fact that this material was not developed and provided long before the switchover is quite telling of the mindset that drove its adoption.) Now that these curricula have been published and put into use for some years, the middling results are less easy to dismiss. I will outline the fundamental problems as I see them in this article, and I’ll get into more detail about each problem in a series of follow-ups.

Despite having so many of these intrinsic issues, countless administrators, teachers, and education researchers have contributed to or been swayed by the story put forward by Common Core proponents, that these new standards have been designed and built from the ground up to present and foster a deeper understanding of the material, starting at the beginning and running all throughout the K-12 curriculum. The standards have been written and organized to have this patina, but it is mostly an empty facade.

Read on. Do you agree or disagree?

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