The instructional practices embedded into the K-5 math standards were the largest complaint from parents regarding Common Core. After the first two drafts of Indiana’s “new” standards, the “fuzzy math” pedagogy embedded in the Common Core was still present – word for word. Unfortunately, the Common Core’s worst math standards remain intact in the latest draft as well. It wasn’t removed.
The new draft begins with a preamble before the standards are listed claiming that the standards are not instructional practices: “The educators and subject matter experts that have worked on the standards have taken care to ensure the standards are free from embedded pedagogy and instructional practices.” This statement couldn’t be further from the truth and those who cut and pasted these standards know it. They simply don’t care because it is the type of pedagogy they prefer – parents and experts be damned.
The IDOE and Pence’s CECI were duly warned that Draft 2 contained pedagogy by Dr. James Milgram, the national expert they hired to help review the standards. Unfortunately, it seems the IDOE and CECI ignored Milgram’s recommendations, and contrary to their claim of pedagogy-free standards many of them remain laden with it. I have highlighted a few of the many standards that still contain pedagogy in the final draft released on Tuesday with Milgram’s comments from the review. What is the point of hiring an expert if you ignore his advice?
1.CA.1: Demonstrate fluency with addition facts and the corresponding subtraction facts within 20. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (e.g., 8 + 6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (e.g., 13 – 4 = 13 – 3 – 1 = 10 – 1 = 9); using the relationship between addition and subtraction (e.g., knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one knows 12 – 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums (e.g., adding 6 + 7 by creating the known equivalent 6 + 6 + 1 = 12 + 1 = 13). Understand the role of 0 in addition and subtraction.
Milgram’s comment: “Standards like this, really an indigestible melange of 8 separate things, some of them even instructions for non-research based pedagogy –create a document that is very hard to understand, particularly for ordinary humans without PhD’s in mathematics.”
3.C.2: Represent the concept of multiplication of whole numbers with the following models: repeated addition, equal-sized groups, arrays, area models and equal “jumps” on a number line. Understand the properties of 0 and 1 in multiplication.
Milgram’s comment: “This is not a standard. Its a description of pedagogy. Moreover, there are far too many models for multiplication required here, which makes it BAD pedagogy. Best would be to delete this standard.”
3.C.3: Represent the concept of division of whole numbers with the following models: partitioning, sharing, and an inverse of multiplication. Understand the properties of 0 and 1 in division.
Milgram’s comment: ” This is not a standard. Its something that forces specific pedagogy, and bad pedagogy at that. Remove.”
4.NS.5: Compare two fractions with different numerators and different denominators, e.g., by creating common denominators or numerators, or by comparing to a benchmark fraction such as 1/2. Recognize that comparisons are valid only when the two fractions refer to the same whole. Record the results of comparisons with symbols >, =, or <, and justify the conclusions, e.g., by using a visual fraction model.
Milgram’s comment: “I would suppress the “benchmark” fractions, which should only be regarded as pedagogy (and probably not very good pedagogy at that). Likewise, the next sentence, talking about “the same whole” is also pedagogy and should be deleted.”
5.NS.2: Explain different interpretations of fractions, including: as parts of a whole, parts of a set, and division of whole numbers by whole numbers.
Milgram’s comment: “In fifth grade? This is lower level, and pedagogically not helpful.”
Milgram’s report cites several other glaring issues with draft 2. We were promised at the State Board of Education meeting by Glenda Ritz that her staff was taking the input from the experts and making the needed corrections to draft 2. The final draft, however, is still a faulty document and good advice went unheeded.