The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

July 30, 2010
Math Council supports Common Core; will State Board?

The California State Board of Education prepares to vote on replacing the state's existing academic standards for reading and math with the Common Core State Standards, organized by 48 governors and chief state school officers.

In a strong statement Friday, the California Mathematics Council (representing 10,000 teachers and parents) is supporting the Common Core math standards.

CMC president Sheri Willebrand writes that the current system, aimed toward building toward algebra for all in 8th grade, has "too many standards, lack of focus and coherence, and the lack of 8th grade standards for students not prepared to take algebra."

She continues:

Our standards may have been considered world class 15 years ago, however knowledge about mathematics instruction and how children learn has grown dramatically.

In a devastating critique of the current math standards, she notes that,

The longer students take math, the worse they do regardless of ethnicity.

In 2008-2009, 54 percent of all 8th graders took the Algebra California Standards Test (CST); only 44 percent of these students scored proficient or above.

Concurrently, 13 percent of 11th graders and 26 percent of 10th graders took the Algebra CST with only 8 percent and 11 percent of those students scoring proficient or above respectively.

The real issue is that you have to prepare students for Algebra I; you can't just dump them there and expect them to succeed - or have them repeat the course over and over, as Willebrand notes:

The current options do not address the fact that it is children of color, children of low income and children who do not speak English who experience limited access to or success in the gateway course for college and career success. Algebra 1 ad nauseam is not an option...Genuine equity unites words and actions in the development of a plan that assures our students emerge from the algebra class successful and ready to learn more mathematics.

Willebrand concludes:

The State Board of Education adoption of the Common Core State Standards is the next logical step towards improvement in mathematics education for our children. The California Mathematics Council stands ready to support all aspects of the implementation of the Common Core Standards.

On Monday, we'll find out whether the naysayers or those favoring the Common Core prevail with the State Board of Education.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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