How do standards change curriculum and state assessments?

March 25, 2014 4 Comments

The most important thing to remember about standards is that whatever is included in them is fair game to be included on testing. Under the NCLB waiver currently enforce in Indiana, teacher evaluations and school rankings will be largely determined by the students results on assessments that measure the content and skills included in the standards.

If a standard reads: “Fluently add and subtract within 100,” an assessment would measure whether or not they could add and subtract 2 two-digit numbers. Can they solve 34+12 or 54-22, 99+34, etc.

If a standard reads “Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operation, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction” as the latest draft of the “new” Indiana standards does, an assessment would require several different methods to solve problems like 44+92, 87-43, 20-12, etc.

The addition strategies written into the standard would require them to be able to these questions on assessments  like this:

298  (+2)  300
 + 574   (-2)  572

and like this:

+ 160

and like this:

(200+500) + (90+70) + (8+4)
700        +    160      +   12     =   872

and like this:

and/or  like this:

Imagine being in third grade and having to remember all these methods. Even worse, imagine answering the question with the quickest and most efficient method, the standard algorithm, and being counted WRONG.

Children should understand why operations work conceptually, but this is over the top. It also requires the class to move SLOWLY and teach several methods. This is why students won’t get to Algebra 1 in 8th grade like top-performing countries that teach the standard algorithm starting in first grade with conceptual methods used only to explain the standard algorithm. By third grade, they are way beyond this type of curriculum.

The standard algorithm for addition and subtraction isn’t required and won’t be tested under Common Core Standards until the fourth grade. In the most recent draft released by the standards committee in Indiana, the standard algorithm is never required, but all the above mentioned methods are in writing and will be on assessments.
Words matter in standards writing, and those writing these standards understand the difference. This is their preference for math education and it is indeed a curriculum.

Under the above standard, Hoosier children would be considered wrong on an assessment, and teachers would be deemed “ineffective,” if they don’t use the  method prescribed by the standards, regardless of solving it correctly; the strategies are required by the standard. When your child’s teacher tells you how important these strategies are to your child’s education, keep in mind it’s also important to her job security. I don’t blame the teachers, it’s out of their control, but parents must be cognizant of the underlying motivations to encourage the strategies.

Call the Department of Education and  Governor Pence’s office and tell them this isn’t what you consider “uncommonly high.”

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Comments (4)

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  1. Pete Boggs says:

    Use of the word “common” is paradigmatically flawed; statist tongue, hostile to the possibility of enlightenment.

  2. Sharon Cooper says:

    I am a retired teacher and this makes me very sad and angry at the same time. I taught 4th grade for 18 years. Loved teaching math but this is not math. It is setting children up for failure. I know my corporation purchased new curriculum for math 2 years ago. I hated it. It was connected to Common Core of course and it was a mess. Math is foundational. It builds upon itself like a staircase and you better have a good foundation or that staircase will fall apart and go no where. During my last two years of teaching I hid the old curriculum and carefully taught it to my students. I know what it takes for 4th graders to prepare for end of the year testing and to be ready for 5th grade. Common Core is confusing and useless. My prayer is that Indiana will stand tall and do the right thing for our students, teachers, parents, and state with the standards they are developing. There is a right and wrong way of doing things.

  3. Jake says:

    Why would anyone learn to use the “standard” algorithm that provides no conceptual guidance to the student? If you want efficient, just give them calculators. If you want to teach number sense, the first method and the 2nd-4th (which are all the same thing), are great. Even the last, method, though, of course, long if the point is a solution, gives a lot of intuition about operations.
    Common Core and similar standards have enough problems without inventing them.

    • Erin Tuttle says:

      Jake, Everyone has their own personal beliefs about how to teach math. The new standards were suppose to be internationally benchmarked to high performing countries with exceptional achievement in mathematics. Standards in high performing countries stress the standard algorithm from the beginning while building conceptualization and number sense. They shouldn’t be exclusive of each other. To diminish the importance of the standard algorithm and delay it until a later grade, goes against the practices of high performing countries.

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