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Common Core math doesn’t mean throwing out the baby with the bathwater

By January 29, 2013June 13th, 20164 Comments

Math. Love it or hate it, it’s essential for success in schooling and in life. As states, districts, and schools continue to implement the Common Core State Standards, helping students “think like mathematicians”—to explain and justify their thinking and apply their learning to new situations—can be a challenge for teachers. But as I wrote in a recent ASCD Express column, implementing the Common Core State Standards in math doesn’t require a complete rework of your instructional strategies. Rather, using time-tested instructional strategies in conjunction with a focused approach to the Common Core can smooth the path to implementation.

Common Core Standards for High School Mathematics: A Quick-Start Guide (Schwols & Dempsey, 2012) provides three recommendations for beginning implementation of the Common Core math standards: focus on the standards for mathematical practice, focus on critical areas, and focus on connections. For more on how to integrate research-based instructional practices with these Common-Core-specific strategies, check out the full ASCD Express column here.

Written by McREL Lead Consultant Kirsten Miller.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.


  • Ashley says:

    I am excited that there is more of a nation-wide system of standards. When I was young, I moved around a lot. There seemed to be some gaps in what I knew compared to other students in my classes. I usually felt like I wasn’t very smart just because I was missing some skills. I am happy that the Common Core should lessen those gaps among students who move from school to school.

  • Niole M says:

    There needs to be a paradigm shift for the teachers to be able to make these mathematical connections for our students. Let’s face it, most people aren’t “math” minded…they don’t naturally make connections between mathematical concepts or get excited to find the “pattern” in a set of numbers. They were taught an algorithm, and they got the job done. Common core will ask us the “why” before the “how.” What I find most troubling is the lack of understanding or apparent unawareness of the 8 mathematical practices required of common core. They are deep and hold students to an impressive depth of knowledge. In my opinion, the focus should shift more towards these mathematical practices and less on the common core standards themselves…if we really want to impact student achievement!

  • Ashley,
    I agree with you. I think I think it’s great that we are all using Common Core and that all of our students will be taught the same standards. All of the Benchmark Assessments and Smarter Balanced Assessments will be helpful in giving us somewhat of a timeline and deadline on when we should teach certain standards.
    In my own school we used the benchmark assessments as a guide for the standards to be taught. It was helpful because everyone on our grade level was always working on the same standards. We were able to discuss strategies and come up with assessments that were aligned to the common core.

  • Heather says:

    It seems math can take a back seat compared to reading and language arts. I feel in my district that we are always more concerned with making sure we are on top of all of our language arts practices. What is problematic is making sure that if students move to another district or even another state that they are prepared in both language arts and math when they enter their new environment. I am optimistic that common core will help in this area.

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