The finalized Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Math K-12 were released today and I was surprisingly pleased with the math one. It is slightly different from the draft and there are several things I like about these standards:
- They’re simple. There aren’t too many of them. They are clear and achievable.
- They make sense. Having taught 2nd grade for 8 years, the standards are spot on. Of course many will be able to do more than that, but it is a reasonable goal for all children to achieve these standards.
- There is a clear scope and sequence (there were some odd gaps in the draft, but they seem to address what I noticed)
- The standards focus on content. It’s up to us to know, learn, and use best practices.
- It has the support of The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) who “support the goal of the CCSS to describe a coherent, focused curriculum that has realistically high expectations and supports an equitable mathematics education for all students.”
Standards are a great backbone that provide a good framework of expectations for kids, but often, there can be too many. Of course, if kids are ready, going beyond those standards is critical to their motivation and continued learning. Today were were given Sustainability standards to integrate with Science and Social Studies. Upon looking at those standards, it was nice to see that we are already doing all of them. We just have to make those things explicit.
There are several leading voices for and against standards. The April 2010 Ed. Leadership issue has several articles related to this. I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I think of standards as a reference tool. Understanding your students well and knowing where they are in relation to the standards is what I find important.
I will be reading the English Language Arts standards over the summer which, for younger grades, focus on Reading, Writing, Speaking, etc.
Below are some links if you want to read more:
Washington State Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Learning Standards (these were the ones presented to us today, but there are all sorts out there)