Do the math — Common Core = a massive, risky experiment on your kids
Remember that James Milgram is a former NASA mathematician, Stanford math professor, and the only true mathematician to serve on the validation committee for Common Core (a mathematician, a math analyst, as opposed to just being a math teacher). He refused to sign off that there was adequate academic legitimacy to Common Core. This is why.
“One of Common Core’s most glaring deficiencies is its handling of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers.
… The classic method of, for example, adding two-digit numbers is to add the digits in the “ones” column, carry the remainder to the “tens” column, and then add the “tens” digits. This “standard algorithm” works first time, every time. But instead of teaching this method, which enables students to solve problems quickly and routinely, Common Core creates a two-step process.
The first is to let students choose from several alternative algorithms (number lines, estimating, etc.) for doing one-digit additions, subtractions, and multiplications.
The second is probably to extend these student constructions to more complex calculations. (We say “probably” because the standards are not at all clear on this point.)
There is no point where the student-constructed algorithms are explicitly replaced by the very efficient standard methods for doing one-digit operations.
Why does Common Core adopt this convoluted method of teaching math?
The stated reason is that learning the standard algorithm doesn’t give students a “deeper conceptual understanding” of what they’re doing. But the use of student-constructed algorithms is at odds with the practices of high-achieving countries and is not supported by research. Common Core is using our children for a huge and risky experiment.
There are also severe problems with the way Common Core handles percents, ratios, rates, and proportions – the critical topics that are essential if students are to learn more advanced topics such as trigonometry, statistics, and even calculus.
As well, the way Common Core presents geometry is not research-based – and the only country that tried this approach on a large scale rapidly abandoned it.
In addition to these deficiencies, Common Core only includes most (but not all) of the standard algebra I expectations, together with only some parts of standard geometry and algebra II courses. There is no content beyond this.
Hidden in Common Core is the real objective – presenting the minimal amount of material that high-school graduates need to be able to enter the work force in an entry-level job, or to enroll in a community college with a reasonable expectation of avoiding a remedial math course.
There is no preparation for anything more, such as entering a university (not a community college) with a reasonable expectation of being able to skip the entry-level courses.
(Virtually no university student who has to take an entry-level math course ever gets a degree in a technical area such as the hard sciences, engineering, economics, statistics, or mathematics.)
Common Core thus amounts to a disservice to our students. It puts them at least two years behind their peers in high-performing countries, and leaves them ill-prepared for authentic college course work.
Those who doubt that this low-level workforce-development is the goal of Common Core should ponder the admission of Jason Zimba, one of the chief drafters of the math standards.
In a public meeting of the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 2010, Dr. Zimba testified that Common Core is designed to prepare students only for a non-selective community college, not a university… …”
Dr. James Milgram, Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University, has extensive experience developing mathematics standards throughout the nation and served on the Validation Committee for the Common Core Standards.
Emmett McGroarty, serves as Executive Director of the American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative which informs Americans about the dangers of centralizing education through the Common Core. He is co-author of “Controlling Education From the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America.”
Dr. Milgram has elsewhere written (responding to a request for clarification about math standards):
“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“