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Topic: Four Problems With Common-Core Math Implementation
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,466
Registered: 12/3/04
Four Problems With Common-Core Math Implementation
Posted: Aug 26, 2014 11:22 AM
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From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record],
Friday, August 22, 2014. See
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/08/researcher_diagnoses_four_prob.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3
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Researcher Diagnoses Four Problems With Common-Core Math Implementation

By Liana Heitin

In a talk for education journalists, William Schmidt, a researcher
and education professor at Michigan State University, laid out what
he sees as the four major problems with how the common-core math
standards are being implemented.

As we've written in Education Week, Schmidt's recent research has
focused on publisher's claims that their instructional materials are
aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which he has
called largely a "sham." [See
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/05/23textbooks_ep.h33.html ]

In the 8-minute presentation, given May 19 at the Education Writers
Association's conference in Nashville, Tenn., (which I only recently
discovered went up on the Web, and have posted below), Schmidt offers
a succinct diagnosis of what's going wrong with implementation of the
math standards around the country. His critique is not about the
standards themselves, but about how they're trickling down to
classrooms.

Here's what he said.

1) Instructional time is not well-allocated. Teachers are spending
too much time on some topics and not enough on others. For example,
his research shows that 3rd and 4th grade teachers are allocating
about half the time on fractions that experts say the common
standards necessitate.

2) Teacher knowledge is "not where it needs to be." Schmidt found
that just half of middle school teachers self-reported that they're
prepared to teach linear equations, "the dominant theme in those
grades." And less than 40 percent of 4th and 5th grade teachers say
they're ready to teach "number sets and concepts," which he says is
the background for the all-important topic of fractions.

3) Teacher preparation is below par internationally. In looking at
the highest-performing teacher-preparation programs outside the U.S.,
his research team found there were nine courses most of those
teachers took. Yet just one-third of pre-service teachers in the U.S.
take equivalent courses. At the bottom-performing U.S. preparation
programs, that percentage goes down to 10 he said.

4) Textbooks don't cover the standards. In examining one popular (but
unnamed) math textbook series, he found that 30 percent of the
common-core standards were not being covered. (Also, see his previous
research --
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/05/23textbooks_ep.h33.html
])

The first two "problems" could potentially be ameliorated with better
professional development. As a survey from the Education Week
Research Center recently found, half of teachers say they have not
gotten high-quality training on the new standards.

To me, no. 3 is not necessarily a common-core specific issue-and, in
fact, as backlash to the NCTQ teacher-preparation evaluation
illustrated, there's really no agreement yet on what makes a prep
program good or bad. [See
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/12/11/14heller.h33.html and
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2013/12/teacher_training_in_classroom_management.html
]

As for no. 4, more groups, including the upcoming EdReports.org, are
getting into the business of evaluating textbook alignment.

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