What does Common Core math look like?

Caleb Bonham, Campus Reform’s Editor-in-chief, just released a video that illustrates the dramatic shift in mathematics education students will experience under the Common Core national standards. As the video suggests, Common Core will change dramatically the way math has been taught for decades.

Developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, Common Core immediately was incentivized by the Obama administration with $4.35 billion in Race to the Top competitive grants and No Child Left Behind waivers for states that signed on.

Now, as implementation deadlines loom, states have come to realize the costs of Common Core, both in dollars and in their freedom to make decisions concerning local education policy.

On May 30, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill exiting the state from the national standards, making South Carolina the second state, after Indiana, to do so. Two other states—Oklahoma and Missouri—have legislation awaiting approval by their governors. In all, 17 states have taken some action to push back against Common Core.

Parents, for their part, have additional concerns. What will their children be taught under Common Core?

After the standards were developed in 2009, five members of the 30-person Common Core validation committee refused to sign on to the standards. Two are content matter experts: James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University, and Sandra Stotsky, professor of education reform emerita at the University of Arkansas and co-author of Massachusetts’ highly regarded ELA standards.

As seen in the video—and articulated by Milgram—Common Core math standards do not use standard algorithms and sequencing.

According to a study conducted by the Pioneer Institute, by seventh grade, the Common Core mathematics standards leave American students two grade levels behind their peers internationally and do not prepare them for admission into highly selective four-year universities and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs.

During a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Education, Jason Zimba, the lead writer for the Common Core mathematics standards, said Common Core includes “a minimal definition of college readiness” that was not designed to prepare students for admission to selective colleges.

The English standards create their own set of concerns. Stotsky argues Common Core’s “diminished emphasis on literature in the secondary grades makes it unlikely that American students will study a meaningful range of culturally and historically significant literary works before graduation. It also prevents students from acquiring a rich understanding and use of the English language. Perhaps of greatest concern, it may lead to a decreased capacity for analytical thinking.”

But there is good news. As the fall implementation deadline looms near—and the real-world impact of Common Core becomes clearer—states are reclaiming their educational decision-making authority by exiting the national standards and tests and reclaiming authority to implement strong state standards that are innovative and reflect the input of academic content experts, teachers and parents.