Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - May 2014

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10 Hudson Valley Parent n May 2014 the 20 or so whose stu- dents routinely outper- form U.S. students in mathematics, science, and problem solving). The new standards require a new approach to mathematics that many find counterintuitive. For example, a problem from a third grade module is: Use the break apart and distribute strategy to solve the following problem: 7 × 8 =_____ In a traditional cur- riculum, there is no "strategy" for solving this problem: students are expected to remember that 7 × 8 = 56. But studies of children as they were learning basic arithmetic revealed that they used a variety of strategies to acquire this knowledge; one of the more important is known as decomposition/composition, where a number is broken down into its components. Thus a possible response to the preceding question would be to break apart 8 into 5 and 3: 7 × 8 = 7 × (5 + 3) = 7 × 5 + 7 × 3 = 35 + 2 = 56 While this approach appears in the Common Core, it actually originate with the NCTM standards, which recommend that students in grades 3-5 should "develop a sense of whole numbers and represent and use them in flexible ways, including relating, composing, and decompos- Dear Jeff, Will New York State abandon the Common Core? Recently the state of Indiana made headlines by announcing it was abandoning the Common Core, leading to speculation that New York and other states will do the same. But what would replace it? The "Common Core" emerged from Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education, a report published in 2008 by the National Governor's Association. The very first item on the list was to "Up- grade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12 to en- sure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive." Prior to the Common Core, most state standards (including Indiana's) were based on recommendations issued by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). In general, the Common Core math standards are the NCTM standards, further informed by Adding it Up: Helping Children Learn Mathemat- ics, a 2001 report by the National Research Council comparing math- ematics education in the U.S. with that of other countries (particularly ing numbers." A similar sentiment is expressed in the learning standards of Finland and South Korea, two countries whose students regularly out- perform U.S. students on international mathemat- ics assessments. Even Texas, one of the more conspicuous non-adopters of the Common Core, incorpo- rates this approach into their own standards: "Determine products using properties of operations (e.g., ...6 × 8 = 6 × (5 + 3) = 6 × 5 + 6 × 3 = 30 + 18 = 48)," which appears in the Texas Third Grade standards. The similarity between the approaches used by Common Core states and non-Common Core states is no accident: both base their standards on NCTM recommenda- tions and Adding it Up; decades of research on how children learn mathematics; and careful exam- ination of the curriculum of other countries. So will the Common Core be abandoned? Perhaps, though as long as we hope to provide our children with a world-class mathematics ed- ucation, its replacement will be the Common Core under a new name. Jeff Suzuki teaches mathematics at Brooklyn College, and is one of the founders of the Mid-Hudson Valley Math Teachers Circle. Email your Common Core questions to our editor at JEFF SUZUKI Mathematics Common Core @ Home Answers from Common Core experts Part Three of a continuing series On the web: Our English Lan- guage Arts expert answers the question: "What happens if my child opts out of testing?" Visit

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