Blog: The Educated Reporter

William Schmidt on the Common Core Math Standards

Math Standards

The explanatory models of yesterday may not cut it in the age of Common Core, says William Schmidt, a Michigan State University professor of education and mathematics who discussed the Common Core State Standards during an EWA webinar on September 25. 

For example, using a whole pie sliced into pieces doesn’t effectively prepare students for understanding numbers that aren’t integers, Schmidt said. Numbers like 2.5 or 17.3 require a leap in thinking the pie model doesn’t communicate, he added.

And contrary to popular wisdom, the math portion of the Common Core standards doesn’t stack the hard stuff in the early years. Schmidt provided a chart that visualizes the content areas the math portion of the standards recommend for every grade. Slopes and similarities are saved for the eighth grade. The straight edge and compass debut in the seventh grade. Percentages don’t appear until the sixth grade. Other concepts, such as measuring units, polygons, and units, are revisited each year but with increasingly greater depth. Fractions are a mainstay from the first grade to the sixth.

Other highlights:

  • According to research Schmidt cited, the common standards are closely aligned—about 90 percent—with those from leading education countries.
  • There’s an organized opposition to the standards and the detractors should be taken seriously, Schmidt said.
  • Schmidt’s previous and upcoming research shows teachers are not recognizing the tectonic shifts between the old and new standards, which worries him.

Image credit: Flickr/ jimmiehomeschoolmom