If you work in one of the 45 states that adopted the Common Core standards to start this year (and chances are you do), then you are probably aware of one major glaring issue regarding the implementation of the math standards.
That is: how can we teach this new, deeper style of math when it supposes that students have had previous years of training and learning in a similar style?
Common Core supporters will say that’s exactly the reason we needed these standards, but that misses the point. The point is that until a class of students has received Common Core instruction from Kindergarten to the end of their careers, it’s not going to make sense. So, my students, who are brand new to the Common Core way of math, are starting out way behind where Common Core supposes they should be.
This should have been a discussion before Common Core was green lighted and rushed into our classrooms. It might have gone something like this:
Logical Thinker: “Here’s the thing. If we start Common Core in every grade this year, it can’t possibly work for all students.”
Skeptic: “Of course it can.”
Logical Thinker: “No, it can’t. Think of it this way. We’re going to ask third graders, for instance, to do math based on what they would have learned in second grade. Only thing is, they didn’t learn Common Core math in second grade, so they don’t have the prerequisite skills to do the Common Core math in third grade.”
Skeptic: “You know what? That’s a good point. And that’s going to be true for all grades, except…”
Logical Thinker: “Kindergarten. If we start Common Core with them this year, then they can do Common Core in first grade because they’ll have done it for a year. It all builds on the previous year so kindergarten is the only grade we can really start with without totally demoralizing kids, teachers, parents, and administrators.”
Skeptic: “This actually makes sense.”
Logical Thinker: “Of course it does. So we start with kindergarten in 2012. Then do kindergarten and first in 2013. Then kindergarten through second in 2014, and continue implementing it in waves until the 2012 kindergarteners are at the end of their career.”
Skeptic: “Okay. I get that. But what about all the kids who don’t get Common Core? We’d just be failing them.”
Logical Thinker: “No, we wouldn’t. Implementing something like this requires logical thought, and that’s why I’m here. We will fail them only if we cause them frustration by expecting them to do math they can’t be expected to do. You can’t build a building without a foundation. Where is their foundation?”
Skeptic: “Yeah, that might be a problem.”