Why the Common Core State Standards?

It only makes sense.  For years in the United States, each state created their own standards for mathematics. Some had as many as 100 standards to be taught every year with no consistency across the county.  Shouldn’t math be the same in Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona, and in fact throughout the country?

During the last 50 years it is no secret that the United States has been falling further and further behind in international testing. Finally, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers along with others created a commission to examine the state of math and language arts education in this country with the intent of improving the education of today’s young people.

Their Mission Statement (http://www.corestandards.org/):

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

The result is a set of standards that not only addresses what students learn, but how they learn.  Instead of trying to learn everything, every year, the Common Core State Standards  provide unique content standards for each grade level.  Every year fewer standards will be covered, providing more time for understanding the math instead of just memorizing it.  Each subsequent year students will use those concepts that have been previously taught to learn new concepts.  Students are responsible for what they have been taught year to year.

Along with the content standards, the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice indicate that we want students to make sense of the mathematics they study.  Students should be able to reason and support the processes they develop.  They need to know which tools to use and when they are appropriate.  Mathematics is all about patterns and students need to be able to recognize the patterns to further their understanding.

As we are educating today’s students for jobs that do not yet exist, we need to address their ability to understand what they have learned so they can apply it to the challenges of tomorrow.  The Common Core State Standards and the Mathematical Practices provide that opportunity to our young people so that they can compete in the global society of tomorrow.

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