James Milgram Testimony to the Indiana Senate Education Committee

December 6, 2012 29 Comments
Written Testimony for Indiana Senate Education Panel for  Hearing on Senate Bill 373
R. James Milgram, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor
Department of Mathematics
Stanford University
January 23, 2012
1. Why would we want to adopt Common Core Math Standards over Indiana Math Standards?
Mathematically, there is no good reason to adopt Common Core Math Standards over the Indiana Standards. Indeed, the Indiana standards were/are? one of the top 4 or 5 state standards in the country, and are approximately at the level of the top international standards. The Common Core standards claim to be “benchmarked against to international standards” but this phrase is meaningless. They are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade, and only fall further behind as they talk about grades 8 – 12. Indeed, they don’t even fully cover the material in an solid geometry course, or in the second year algebra course.
2. What are the differences between Common Core Math Standards and Indiana Standards?
Basically, the differences are described above. Both standards were authored with the help of the professional mathematics community as distinguished from the mathematical education community. But — as someone who was at the middle of overseeing the writing process – my main duty on the CCSSO Validation Committee — it became clear that the professional math community input to CCSSI was often ignored, which seemed not to be the case with the Indiana Standards. A particularly egregious example of this occurred in the sixth and seventh grade standards and commentary on ratios, rates, proportion and percents, where there are a number of serious errors and questionable examples. But the same issues are also present in the development of the basic algorithms for whole number arithmetic – the most important topic in grades 1 -5.
It was argued by some people on the Validation Committee that we should ignore such errors and misunderstandings as they will be cleared up in later versions, but I didn’t buy into this argument, and currently there is no movement at all towards any revisions.
3. How do they compare with international standards?
As I indicated above, they are more than two years behind international expectations by eighth grade. The top countries are starting algebra in seventh grade and geometry in eighth or ninth. By the end of ninth grade the students will have learned all of the material in a standard geometry course, all the material in a standard algebra I course, and some of the most important material in a standard algebra II course.  This allows a huge percentage of them to finish calculus before graduating high school. (In a number of the high achieving countries, calculus is actually a high school graduation requirement, but where it is not, typically, half or more of the high school graduates will have had calculus. Also, it is worth noting that in these countries the high school graduation rate is typically 90% or higher for their entire populations.)
4. Was it a transparent process?
For the most part it was, but it was far from being entirely transparent.

Comments (29)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Inferiority | Education Freedom Ohio | April 1, 2013
  2. Common Core Inferiority | Education Freedom Ohio | April 3, 2013
  3. Hogwash Alert: “National Review” on Common Core | COMMON CORE | April 4, 2013
  4. Six Reasons Why Conservatives (Should) Object to the Common Core | Caffeinated Thoughts | April 4, 2013
  5. “Hogwash Alert to National Review Online” | April 4, 2013
  6. Regarding Common Core: “Hogwash Alert to National Review Online” | Are We Aware Yet? Political News Blog-Current News Political News Blog | April 10, 2013
  7. Arizona State Superintendent Believes Common Core Provides Benefits | COMMON CORE | April 16, 2013
  8. Utahns Discuss Common Core Math | COMMON CORE | April 19, 2013
  9. Common Core Curriculum and Agenda 21 | lisaleaks | May 16, 2013
  10. Will the slowdown on Common Core in some states lead to a wider retreat? | HechingerEd Blog | May 31, 2013
  11. Common Core Deceive-and-Denigrate Campaign Continues | lessbull.com | June 10, 2013
  12. Alaska Schools Rush Headlong into Subpar Math Standards | Truth in American Education | August 21, 2013
  13. Alaska’s Math Standards are Subpar | Stop the Common Core in Alaska | August 21, 2013
  14. WHAT IS COMMON CORE ? | Eye on Brevard | August 27, 2013
  15. Nebraska Under Pressure to Adopt Common Core | Truth in American Education | September 6, 2013
  16. Nebraska Under Pressure to Adopt Common Core #stopcommoncore | Stop Common Core Illinois | September 7, 2013
  17. James Milgram on the Common Core Math Standards | Diane Ravitch's blog | September 11, 2013
  18. Michelle Malkin | Jeb Bush’s latest Common Core snit fit « | September 20, 2013
  19. Jeb Bush’s latest Common Core snit fit | PolitiTalk | September 20, 2013
  20. Jeb Bush’s latest Common Core snit fit | Tony Johnson | September 20, 2013
  21. The Warping of Simplicity and Eloquence | Hoosiers Against Common Core | September 27, 2013
  22. HOGWASH ALERT TO NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE | Education News | November 3, 2013
  23. Dr. Milgram’s Q and A responses for New York and Indiana | Saint Simon Common Core Information | November 30, 2013
  24. What’s the Big Deal about Common Core State Standards? | The Virginia Free Citizen | April 3, 2014
  25. STOP Common Core in Nevada | Nevada State Personnel Watch | April 27, 2014
  26. Dr. Milgram and Common Core Math Standards | Mary Jo Nyssen | September 21, 2014
  27. A summary of common core and testing. | stopcommoncorenys | December 19, 2014
  1. Kathy Anderson says:

    This is such vital information for anyone concerned! Why did not the Indiana legislature listen? Money????

  2. Dora says:

    This makes evteirhyng so completely painless.

Leave a Reply