Date: Dec 20, 2012 1:48 PM
Author: Kirk Weiler
Subject: What topics are in the new Common Core Aligned HS Courses?

So, next year the Algebra I and Geometry "Regents" exams simultaneously become aligned to the Common Core (June 2014).  The math teachers here at Arlington are working hard to design courses that align with the new standards.

But, I'm still left wondering, what exactly should be in the courses, which, unfortunately, is driven by what will be assessed on the end of the year assessments.

Does anyone else feel like they are trying to read tea leaves on this one? Seriously, how hard is it to give us a list? The answer to this question is not as obvious as you may think.

Given that this debate and these decisions, for the first time, are being driven primarily by national organizations (true NGO's), it's tough to tell. I've been debating whether to go with the CCSS Appendix A (Designing High School Math Classes Based on the Common Core Standards - which engage.ny tells us to use) or use the guidelines on the PARCC Model Content Frameworks (Version 3.0 November 2012 attached as well to this post) because we are supposed to move over to PARCC in June of 2015.

With the PARCC guidelines, specifically, I am interested in the Table found on page 55, the Pathway Summary Table, that gives (dot by dot) the standards that PARCC will assess on each of their end of the year assessments for the three math courses.

This table, along with the extended one from pages 56 to 59 that delineates the differences in how Algebra I and Algebra II overlapping standards will be addressed, is the most detailed and easy to understand summary of what skills and knowledge will be assessed in each of the three courses on the end of year assessment.

The format of all of this, though, is very non-user friendly. You literally have to squint to see where the tiny dots are and then you have to have the actual Common Core standards open in order to find out how the standard reads.

I decided to distill all of this in the last few weeks into three MS Word documents that are attached to this post. I listed each of the standards that PARCC states will be assessed at the end of each of the courses. I've arranged them by the large conceptual categories (Algebra, Functions, etc) and then by domain. I've tried to include the differences in the "task limits" between Algebra I and Algebra II into the two documents as well.

Again, these documents do not represent my work, per se, just a combination of the PARCC Model Content Frameworks with the Common Core Standards. All I did was try to put them in a more user friendly form. Please feel free to use these. I did NOT post them as PDF's because the equations within them kept getting corrupted when I tried that conversion. I think these are fairly useful documents for anyone wanting a simple list of what content PARCC will be testing on their end of year assessments. Without this, I just don't see how we can realistically design courses.

Now, what this exercise definitely taught me is how out of alignment Appendix A (which comes straight from Common Core and is referenced by engage.ny) is with the PARCC Model Content Frameworks. Consider this one example. In Appendix A, it is stated that students should study Conditional Probability and the Rules of Probability (S-CP.1 to S-CP.7) in Geometry, which is pretty heavy stuff. But, the PARCC end of the year Geometry assessment has no probability whatsoever. The probability would be assessed by PARCC at the end of Algebra II, not in Geometry as Appendix A would have it.

As any of us in the field can tell you, the inclusion or exclusion of the two to three weeks to properly study classic probability (no combinatorial work) is a big alignment concern. Anyone want to roll the die on that one and not teach it next year to their Geometry students? Then will you teach it the following year to your Algebra II students? There are other issues, of course.

What we need is for NYSED to clearly state for us what, excactly, we should use as a guideline for the Pearson designed June 2014 Common Core Aligned exams. If it is Appendix A, so be it. If it is the PARCC framework, fine by me. But they need to make a decision. It is my hope that they settle on the PARCC framework so that we don't have to design one set of Algebra I and Geometry courses for 2013-2014 and then another when we "realign" to the PARCC exams in 2014-2015.

So, I make an end of December plea for the hard working and good folks up in Albany to make a decision and provide us with some clarity and to do this soon so that we can make the best use out of our Spring and Summer.

Have a happy holiday season everyone.

Kirk Weiler
Math Coordinator-Arlington High School
Arlington Algebra Project Editor-In-Chief
eMathInstruction.com Algebra 2 with Trigonometry Author