We all understood that the Common Core was meant to drive change in instruction, but did we understood how much change? Less than 40% of what is supposed to be taught in Math under the Common Core is currently taught at that grade today.
One of the most interesting presentations at NCTM was the results of a study comparing the Common Core to state standards. Dawn Teuscher of Brigham Young University presented, based on a paper she co-wrote with Shannon Dingman of the University of Arkansas, Jill Newton of Purdue University, and Lisa Kasmer of Grand Valley State University. The name of the paper is Common Mathematics Standards in the United States, and it is due to be published in The Elementary School Journal.
The paper specifically studies grades 6-8, comparing the Common Core State Standards in Math (CCSSM) to the current state standards in eight large states. But the implications are more universal and can likely be extrapolated to all states and all grades.
First step was to granularize the CCSSM, as these standards are written in a way that generally encompasses multiple learning expectations. For example:
CCSSM 8.EE.5: Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the graph. Compare two different proportional relationships represented in different ways, For example, compare a distance-time graph to a distance time equation to determine which of the two moving objects has greater speed.
This is really three different learning expectations:
- Graph proportional relationships
- Compare two different proportional relationships represented in different ways
- Interpret unit rate as the slope of a graph
The researchers went into all the standards, and broke them down into learning expectations, which can then be compared to the existing state standards.
Second stage was to map the CCSSM learning expectations to the learning expectations of existing state standards. There were four possibilities for CCSSM learning expectations:
- The existing standards could teach the material at an earlier grade than CCSSM
- It could be taught at the same grade level under both plans
- It could be taught at a higher grade currently
- It could be something new that is not currently taught at all
The study found that, across states, about 40% of the CCSSM objectives are not taught at all today, in any grade. About 15% is taught in higher grades. About 15% is taught in lower grades. And only about 30% of the material is currently taught in the grade dictated by the Common Core. The specifics are different state by state, one state may teach an objective in 4th, another in 5th, and a third may not actually teach that skill, but the overall percentages generally apply.
Looking at individual grades:
- 48% of grade 6 CCSSM standards are new in at least ¾ of the states (absolute values, inequalities, measure of variation, and geometry)
- 46% of grade 7 CCSSM standards are new in at least ¾ of the states (relationship between 2D and 3D figures, angle measurement, random sampling, comparative inferences)
- 39% of grade 8 CCSSM standards are new in at least ¾ of the states (transformational geometry, qualitative features and comparisons of functions)
The biggest focus areas of new material are around statistics and probability and geometry. In fact, only about one quarter of the learning objectives of the Middle School CCSSM were found across all states.
How will teachers be able to adapt to teaching material that was never taught in K12 before? How will teachers teach material that used to be taught 1-3 grades later? What happens during the next 3-4 years when students who weren't taught CCSSM material in lower grades are expected to learn even more advanced material? Who among you has figured out that the figures don't add up to the 60% that is in the title of this blog post (55% of the objectives are either not taught yet or are taught in a higher grade level, while an additional 15% are taught at a lower grade level)?
We all want our next generation to be skilled in math and science. The current state standards aren't getting us there. But, as national education funding gets sequestered, and state education funding is being squeezed by Medicare and Medicaid, making this type of change should be easy. Right?