Learning less math sounds like a school child’s dream. And now, for students in most of the country, it’s becoming a reality. Common Core – the name given to new education standards adopted by 45 states – operates on the idea that focusing on fewer topics will allow students to gain a more thorough understanding of core concepts.
As Kenneth Chang explains in The New York Times, “Under the previous New York math standards, kindergartners were expected to learn to orally count to 20 and write the numbers from 1 to 10. Under the new standards … they are to count 100, both by ones and by 10s, and to write all of the numbers to 20. To make time for the additional numbers, the new standards drop rudimentary introductions to concepts in algebra and statistics.” Now, rather than spending time teaching kindergarteners to recognize patterns, students will be made to understand that, for example, the number “fourteen” begins with a one – not a four, as the name suggests. Concepts like these are taken for granted by adults, but are some of the hardest for young students to grasp.
The idea came about several years ago, as state-level officials came together in an effort to standardize learned concepts across the country. The outcome, Common Core, offers a uniform approach in reading and writing, as well as math. If it seems strange that so many states have signed on given that “standardized” has all but become a dirty word in education circles, it will not be a surprise that a financial incentive is involved. As Chang again explains, “The Obama administration did not play a direct role in writing Common Core, but it offered a financial carrot — states that adopted the new standards were more likely to receive a slice of billions of dollars in education grants.”
Of course, any new educational implementation can arouse doubts; some states are concerned about a federal takeover of the system and many parents took note of lesser test scores based on new standards. But officials and teachers are confident. They rest assured that the method has been proven and children are learning to think more effectively.
Is your state one of the many taking part in the new system? Let us know what you think below.