Yes, the United States is behind other countries on mathematics problem solving. Yes, college professors reported students were unprepared for advanced mathematical analysis. Yes, this influenced the adoption of Common Core State Standards for mathematics. So why would there be backlash in San Jose among other places?

  1. How do educators communicate that which is still being understood? It’s not an easy task. Some districts are experiencing a gap between their previously adopted curriculum and newly mandated, more rigorous standards that balance conceptual development, skill acquisition, and application of ideas. (Rigor is not defined as “being more difficult.”)
  2. Many of us have seen details taken out of context. A common post on Facebook has shown subtraction by addition. Many people don’t realize these tasks help kids “decompose” numbers prior to learning a traditional, efficient algorithm in elementary school, and that the idea of number strings is helpful in learning middle school mathematics.
  3. There is a percentage of students who were highly successful without new standards. It can be hard to see why change is worthwhile. As a side note, check out this Duke University study demonstrating the danger of pushing kids into advanced math before they’re ready for it.
  4. There’s always backlash to change, especially with a lack of ownership in the change. The bigger the change, the bigger the backlash. For many teachers, change feels like the only constant there is in education…and it can be exhausting.

A very interesting article in U.S. News & World Report brings multiple perspectives to light!

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