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Understanding Math Education Today: What Is the Common Core, and How Does it Affect Your Child?

Posted by LearnBop .

Jul 1, 2013 2:40:00 PM

You may have heard the words “Common Core” a lot lately, but what is it, and how does it affect you and your child?  To start at the beginning, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) generally refers to a common core of knowledge and skills believed crucial for all students in the U.S. to be prepared for college and future careers, and specifically refers to the standards now in place to make sure that knowledge is taught in the U.S. 

A Brief History of the Common Core.  The need for a common set of standards for math and English education was first recognized in the 1990s, as it became a requirement for states to administer mandatory tests in order to demonstrate student achievement levels.  One of the major goals of creating the Common Core was to unify educational efforts across the U.S., and to have shared goals that every school was striving to achieve.  After much discussion and research regarding how exactly to create these standards, the Common Core State Standards were drafted in 2009, and then finalized and released in 2010.

Since its release, 45 states in the U.S. have adopted the CCSS.  However, because the CCSS is so new, many school resources have not been planned around it.  Beware that some resources that are noted as being CCSS aligned have only had minor tweaks or edits and are not significantly aligned to reflect the content and practices outlined in the standards.

What are some key aspects of the Common Core for math?
It has been said that the U.S. math curriculum is “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  This refers to an effort commonly made in math classes to cover a great deal of material but not very deeply, rather than covering less material but going into great detail.  To guide the movement toward going into greater depth, the CCSS for math include these eight mathematics practices:

1.  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
2.  Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
3.  Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
4.  Model with mathematics.
5.  Use appropriate tools strategically.
6.  Attend to precision.
7.  Look for and make use of structure.
8.  Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. 

How LearnBop Aligns with the Common Core
LearnBop’s automated tutoring program was carefully designed with these eight basic practices in mind.  Every problem in LearnBop encourages students to make sense of the problem and persevere in solving it by providing specific guided steps along with hints about key concepts.  The hints also encourage the understanding of mathematics by showing students the concepts and skills underlying each particular question.  These concepts and skills indicate the larger structure of mathematics—the foundation of what they are studying—despite the different kinds of situations in which those ideas reveal themselves.

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Topics: Differentiating Instruction, Implementing the Common Core, Teaching & Learning

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