Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

How The Common Core Is Changing Math Instruction For Indiana's Youngest Students

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Many Indiana schools are using Everyday Mathematics, curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Indiana’s youngest students are learning math in a different way than their parents or even older siblings.

That’s because the new Common Core academic standards have changed how teachers introduce math in the early grades. In classrooms across the state, you’ll find kindergarten and first grade students using blocks and interlocking cubes to learn how to add and subtract.

Architects of the nationally crafted academic standards say kids need a better foundation in math skills before moving on to more advanced concepts and operations. But some parents and math scholars argue the new standards just don’t add up.

“The problems are always written sideways,” says Indianapolis parent Suzanne Sherby. “There’s just nothing that looks like traditional math.”

How Math Homework Led To Pushback Against New Standards

The use of math tools — called “manipulatives” — in the early grades isn’t new. But as Indiana schools transition to Common Core, more teachers are breaking out the blocks to ensure young students leave with a conceptual understanding of basic arithmetic.

“Students are doing a lot of hands-on work, so you see and hear students learning a lot more,” says John Newport, curriculum coordinator for Vigo County Schools. “With Common Core State Standards and the standards for mathematical practice, that’s really what they’ve been focusing on.”

For several years the district has used a curriculum called Everyday Math, which emphasizes teaching a variety of strategies and methods to solve problems. So Newport says parents in Vigo County are already familiar with the Common Core’s hands-on approach to math.

But parents at other schools say elementary math instruction has changed so much they’ve formed a group called Hoosiers Against the Common Core that’s leading a statehouse push to withdraw Indiana from the new standards.

“At our school, the first thing we noticed is we changed math curriculum and the papers that started coming home were just crazy,” says Sherby, who’s gotten involved with Hoosiers Against the Common Core. “You’d look at them and think, well, what did they want them to write?”

Sherby slides one of her son’s math worksheets across the table. She says it looks much different than the assignments her older child brought home just a few years ago.

“So you start looking at it, and you see your child missed 11 minus 5 because he wrote 11 minus 5 was 6, but he forgot to draw 11 pairs of pants and cross 5 of them out,” says Sherby.

Where The Standard Algorithm Fits Into The Common Core

You probably learned to add using the standard algorithm. The numbers would be written on top of each other, and you’d work from right to left, adding the ones, then the tens, then the hundreds.

Sherby’s son is learning a different way, called regrouping. Instead of putting 243 on top of 162, the numbers are pulled apart and written next to each other: 200 plus 100, 40 plus 60, 3 plus 2. Teaching kids to add the sums helps them understand where each number is coming from, says Doug Clements, a mathematics and early childhood education researcher at the University of Denver who helped write the Common Core standards.

“Do we want the kids adding in columns? Absolutely. Eventually,” he says.

But not before they’re ready. Clements says the committee that wrote the Common Core standards started with a narrative of how math concepts develop. So the standard algorithm is still there, it just isn’t taught until kids have more of a foundation in math.

“The fact that it was made for the days of the Bob Cratchits, right? Who had to sit all day on a stool and add columns and figures?” says Clements. “So we wanted it to be an efficient kind of process, which has separated it from its conceptual and mathematical roots.”

Why Some Mathematicians Say Common Core Lowers The Bar

But mathematicians who oppose the Common Core point to a different Dickens character: Tiny Tim. Ze’ev Wurman says regrouping is just a crutch that delays teaching the standard algorithm.

“It meanders and messes around with all these great looking strategies that don’t always work,” says Wurman, who sat on the committee that reviewed the Common Core State Standards in California.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A group of parents called Hoosiers Against The Common Core say homework and workbooks aligned to the new standards don't look like traditional math.

Wurman says adults who already know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide understand there’s more than one way to do basic arithmetic. But he says if you’re 6 and your teacher shows you several ways to solve a problem, you’ll probably be confused as to which method you should pick.

“And by the Common Core delaying the expectation of fluency for a year or two, it opens a door to fill the previous year with a lot of fooling around — if I’ll put it bluntly — and confusing children,” he says. 

Wurman says the Common Core might raise the bar in states whose standards weren’t strong before. But Indiana already had good academic standards — some say more rigorous than the Common Core. They weren’t preparing students for college and career, though. The state’s community colleges spend $35 million a year remediating students who aren’t ready for college-level math.


  • Jo Blacketor

    Who are these parents you proclaim are speaking out against common core? I’d love the chance to meet with them. And when will NPR cover the upside of Common core?

    • Teresa Wardwell Wiley

      There is no upside to cover.

      • Mary-Adele Allison

        Yes, there is. Have you actually read the standards for each grade level?

        • Teresa Wardwell Wiley

          Yes I have! There is no upside.

  • Teresa Wardwell Wiley

    The reason colleges have to spend so much time with remediation in math is that for the past 10 years (NCLB years) we have been teaching kids how to perform on a test, not how to use math. Common Core is OK, but the Indiana Standards are good if not better, we just need to stop all of the insane testing so we can get back to making our students think.

    • Mary-Adele Allison

      I have been teaching the Common Core for 2 years now. I am not teaching to a test. I am giving the students a complete understanding of the concepts and showing them how to use math. The Common Core was put together in response to those who screamed that our kids were not competitive on the international market. It responds to this outcry, but also utilizes the recent research that actually shows the most effective ways of teaching math. There have been studies on the brain that actually show how people/children learn. It may be uncomfortable to those who were not taught with this in mind — who did not have the benefit of gaining a full understanding of a concept, but it is actually going to lead to generations with a deeper understanding of the concepts. Then, maybe, our companies WILL have people in the U.S. that match the criteria needed. Presently, our companies are recruiting people from other countries for employment because they say they cannot find recruits with the expertise needed.

      • Teresa Wardwell Wiley

        They recruit people from other countries because they are willing to work at half the pay. When your job and your school rely on the test scores of students you have to teach to the test.

        • THB

          Perhaps in the case of outsourcing this is true, but we’re seeing more and more foreign hires in math/science/engineering here—and the pay is just the same for them as their American counterparts.

      • Erin Tuttle

        If that is your argument, I would suggest you compare CC standards to Singapore and see what high performing students are learning and when. Also, see Chris Tienken’s video, it’s very good.



          This reminds me of the Windows ads several years ago telling people that Vista was a great operating system, and we all were just buying into the lies. Kind of like Bing is doing now regarding its performance against Google.

          Sorry, but I haven’t drank any Kool-Aid. I saw with my own eyes in elementary school (my daughter’s) for three years. If you teach high school, I think you should be forced to spend a week in elementary school several times a year. The train is derailing there.

      • The Truth

        I agree that students need to understand the concepts behind the numbers and equations so that they can more fully understand the math that they are learning. However, if you are suggesting that CC and only CC holds the patent on this notion, then I disagree. As I see it (I’m a public school teacher of 17 years), the problem isn’t that what we teach doesn’t build conceptual knowledge, the problem is how we evaluate that knowledge. If we truly want children to understand the concepts behind the math that we teach, then the use of standardized tests as the sole means of evaluation is misguided. If I were allowed the freedom to spend a week on fraction/percent/decimal relationships (for example), my students would not only be able to answer questions about that, but also have a stronger and deeper understanding of that concept. However, due to the “mile-wide inch-deep” nature of standardized tests, I would do so at my students’ (and my own) peril. Unfortunately, because of how laws are written, my students and I are only as “smart” as our standardized test scores.

    • The Truth


  • NW

    FWIW — Indiana’s
    old standards first required the standard algorithms for addition and subtraction
    in 4th grade, just like Common Core. In
    earlier grades, Indiana’s old standards required the use of “objects” (i.e.,
    blocks, interlocking cubes, or other manipulatives) for addition and subtraction.

  • NW

    Ze’ev Wurman is an engineer, not a mathematician.

    • Richard Fiola

      And engineers don’t know anything about mathematics, do they?

      • NW

        They know lots of mathematics, of course. But when the “who oppose Common Core” link didn’t take me to a page with comments from any mathematicians, I spent 30 seconds on Google to do a little fact checking.
        I also found that Indiana’s old standards are pretty much the same as Common Core for the standard algorithms and using manipulatives despite the implication in the article. Then I got bored and quit looking for mistakes and misrepresentations, but I’m having trouble taking this article seriously now.

    • Concerned Parent

      Technically, engineers are even better prepared for analyzing this content than mathematicians. They take about the same number of pure math classes as math majors and then TONS of applied math. When you have to apply math to real life problems, you tend to develop much deeper level understanding of the concepts. You also have a much better grasp on the math we need to develop for real jobs after our kids finish their formal education. You are not stuck in theory and academia.

  • Erin Tuttle

    The improved 2009 indiana academic standards have the standard algorithm in 3 grade:
    3.1.5 Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of whole numbers fluently using a standard algorithmic approach.

    Compare that to the Common Core standards for addition and subtraction in 3 grade:
    3.NBT.2 Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.

    The Common Core requires students to utilize fuzzy math concepts for years before the standard algorithm is introduced. This is confusing to children and delays mastery of the standard algorithm (the basis for higher level math.) For examples of what the strategies and algorithms look like versus the standard one please see our website

    • Mary-Adele Allison

      That standard is not fuzzy. It is stating that children should have such proficiency with the concept that they can explain using a variety of understandings. They should be proficient with the algorithm — that’s just memorization of a technique. They should be able to use place value (the basis for our number system) to explain how they reached the answer — This has always has been expected. They should be able to show the relationship between addition and subtraction — otherwise known as FACT FAMILIES — Children have been required to do this since before my grandmother was a child. If there are adults that were not required to do this as children, then, you were not given a full understanding of math.

      • Erin Tuttle

        Properties of operations have always been taught and should be. I’m talking more about place value strategies that are encouraged in CC. Look at the lattice method, used in Everyday Math. How in the world does this teach place value any more than the standard algorithm? How does teaching kids to start subtracting and adding in the hundreds column in 4th grade using the partial sum method not confuse children when they learn the standard algorithm? Teaching concepts and place value is the first step in learning operations, but these “crutches” need to be dropped and the standard algorithm needs to be mastered. I’m sure your grandmother’s math curriculum did not look like the common core. Americans were much better educated back then.

        • Robin Paulin

          You’re looking at a curriculum not the standard. There is a huge difference in what is expected to be learned and the way in which it is presented. Everyday Math can be very confusing and as a parent (2000) I was extremely frustrated because I had to figure out how the algorithm worked but there is value in learning alternate methods (algorithms) for solving problems. Not every child understands the standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. They don’t necessarily provide students with a deep understanding of the concepts. As a child I struggled with the fact that I “carry the one” when I kept thinking I thought it was 10! Common Core is not the issue. It the dog chasing its tail. Curriculum and assessment are more of the issue. If the goal is for the student to have a deep understanding of the place value to add, subtract, multiply, and divide proficiently than the assessment should not be on the method/algorithm they used to solve the problem it should be on whether or not they understand how to correctly solve the problem…as long as they can show their work and it is a method that will consistently provide correct results regardless of the problem. This is where we are failing students. My son had difficulty with the “lattice method” so his test scores showed he didn’t know how to do the math…when he did. That is poor assessment matching. Are we checking to see that he knows how to solve the problem and has a profound understanding of the concept or is it that he understands an algorithm that doesn’t work for him? I preferred that he understood the math.
          After spending 20 years in the military, having four children in various stages of school and now an elementary school teacher I don’t care what algorithm my students used to get their answer as long as it is an appropriate one and the student really has a profound understanding of the concept as well understanding the relationship between numbers.
          I like what Chris Tienken has to say about homogenizing learning. I believe however that the countries spending more time teaching their children the core subjects will be more successful but as he states creativity should not be lost in the process. One last thing I’d like to ask, are the people making policies for our children’s education utilizing public education or do they send their children to private school?

          • The Truth


    • THB

      the standard algorithm isn’t the basis for higher level math. simply learning any algorithm has nothing to do with actual mathematics, which is a creative, problem-solving art. I’m not well-versed yet in the common core, and there may be drawbacks, but just being proficient at algorithms does nothing to prepare you for real math, and just because parents and teachers must learn a new way of doing things is not sufficient reason to throw out a plan when many of these have little idea of what is necessary to prepare the students to really succeed in math.

      • Erin Tuttle

        Place value has and should continue to be taught in the classroom. My point is that the standard algorithm is the quickest most efficient way to perform the operation. As math gets more complicated, students need this mastery to be able to continue through algebra 1 and 2. When using place value strategies like the partial sum method, it teaches the kids to start adding/subtracting in the hundreds column. This causes confusion when taught the standard algorithm as that doesn’t work when you have to regroup. Instead of making the standard algorithm more easily understood, it can cause the reverse. Many of the place value strategies are very confusing and not conceptually understandable to children, take a look at the opposite change algorithm. It’s awful.

        The biggest problem is that they haven’t piloted the CC standards in a district before adoption. Why try out an experiment on 46 states without the evidence to support the effectiveness?

  • Mary-Adele Allison

    I don’t understand many of these comments.
    Children should have learned to draw math problems long before the
    Common Core came around. It has been proven that the use of
    manipulatives increases a child’s understanding of math concepts as they
    become more complex and abstract in later years. By building a strong
    foundation in early years, the students are able to conceive the
    abstract later (algebra & geometry). Studies have shown that boys
    were traditionally stronger in math because their play involved concepts
    in math (blocks, etc.). Also, drawing a problem is one of the most
    basic strategies to understand word problems in math. IN TRUTH, the
    Common Core is expecting children to become proficient in math concepts
    at a younger age than before the new Common Core. AT THE SAME TIME, I
    think that homework should be easy for parents to understand or the
    school should have math nights & other resources to help parents
    understand the methodology.

    • Mike

      My parents don’t understand the homework and don’t come to math night. They also don’t come to conferences or answer their phones. They don’t send in asthma medicine or provide their child(ren) with clean clothes. Glasses… an unnecessary expense. Common core is not my concern. Lack of parental involvement is my concern. Common core is just the flavor of the month that was rammed down our throats if we wanted the Race for the Top money. It is all about money and eliminating unions. I think it is time to find another job. Anyone need an electrician?

  • Jim McClain

    Ask a child taught with the Common Core State Standards to reduce 34/51. Most will say that it can’t be done. Why? Because it isn’t evident that 34 and 51 have a common factor of 17. The Common Core State Standards don’t ask students to find the prime factorization of a number…ever. They never learn how to use prime factorization to reduce fractions, to simplify square roots, to find the greatest common factor, or to find the least common multiple. This is just one example of how these standards lower the bar. The Indiana standards and the NCTM standards both address this very fundamental understanding of the DNA, if you will, of numbers. And yes, I am a math teacher AND an Indiana parent.

    • Annmarie Thomas

      My experience is that most high school students and adults would say 34/51 cannot be reduced and that certainly is not the result of Common Core.

      I too am a math teacher and parent and I couldn’t be more excited about the Common Core, if and only if it is actually implemented correctly. My fear is that you, and apparently a multitude of your colleagues, have not received the professional development or planning time to properly implement Common Core. It is a shift, yes, but hardly a complete abandonment of basic mathematical concepts, such as, prime factorization, which is addressed in standard 6.NS.4.

      As a high school teacher, I have had the distinct pleasure of seeing the end result of standard teaching practices and I must say, it is terrifying. Yes, students should learn the standard algorithm, but algorithms have no staying power if they are not supported by conceptual understanding. Algorithms do not solely serve as the foundation of advanced math because students without a conceptual understanding of arithmetic will struggle with the abstract nature of algebra and beyond. I fear that a lack of willingness to teach to a deeper level beyond just algorithms reflects a lack of flexibility and conceptual knowledge by the instructor (not necessarily directed at Mr. McClain).

      More than anything in these comments I am disappointed by the teachers. First, the lack of knowledge about the Core is staggering. For example, NCTM assisted in writing the Common Core standards and endorses the standards ( Additionally, the Core Practice Standards are a modification of NCTM’s Process Standards. To say that NCTM addresses something Core does not makes me feel like teachers in Indiana have not done their due diligence before abandoning progress, which leads to my second frustration.

      When will we all stop making excuses and try to fix the problem. The math scores of students U.S. are unbelievably low given the our relative wealth, health, and stability in the world. We sit around as parents, educators, legislators, and general members of the community and waste all of our time and energy blaming each other, making excuses, and, in reality, being completely indifferent to the fact that we, the great United States are failing en masse to educate an entire generation. And it matters, a lot. The entire future of our country depends on our ability to get education right. Even if you are a great teacher, you still have room to grow. You still have at least one student you fail to make real progress with. So instead of sitting around fussing about how this change isn’t good enough or that you don’t like using a variety of approaches to the same concept or that you’re doing good enough as is; you just admit that frankly, good enough is clearly far from it and on a whole we are failing, so why not be open to learning a bit more about the Core and trying one or two new things here and there, and who knows, you, and your students just might learn something worth remembering.

      • Jim McClain

        Thanks for not being too condescending. You made up for it with presumption, though. The standard that you quote, 6.NS.4, does not mention prime factorization. And my specific example of reducing 34/51 is something that my students do well BECAUSE of the depth of my conceptual instruction, which you implied may be deficient in my teaching.

      • cindy

        Let me guess…how have you capitalized on the common core? Be straightforward. How are YOU making money off of this?

        When will we stop making excuses???? My town was doing just fine! WHY is this federal intrusion and corporate takeover trying to fix our problems???? Why is the government training my children to “persevere?”

      • ConcernedParent

        Then students who have mastered the algorithm shouldn’t be punished for not using remedial methods to solve the problem. I have 10 year old twins who just suffered through CC implementation in 4th grade. The “conceptual” models being used (by incompetents who never even had to take algebra which is the first problem here) confused the heck out of them. When I explained the foundation of what they were doing and then the algorithm, it was clear sailing. Their teachers, though, wouldn’t accept their answers done with the traditional algorithm. They had to use the completely moronic area model…a model, that by the way, does not translate to long multiplication or division without getting even more incomprehensible.
        Truthfully, the problem is that we do not have teachers with deep-level mastery of math responsible for teaching it in the earlier grades. The issue was NEVER the curriculum. If you have a virtual math illiterate trying to give conceptual foundations in multiplication and division, you are just asking for a bunch of confused kids. Most of our elementary school teachers were not math geniuses themselves – many of them weren’t top in their class at anything, I would LOVE to see math split out to teachers who at least have a Bachelor’s in math even as early as second grade when you start to get into more complex addition and subtraction. Yes…that means they MUST have taken Algebra 1 and preferably up through at least Calculus 1. Heck…I’d like to see them have to take Physics, too. A little bit of applied math does wonders for understanding what is really going on.

        • concerned_teacher

          The area model is, in fact, directly applicable to both long multiplication and long division, without much complication. See
          Ultimately the point is not to rely blindly on an algorithm that is poorly understood.

          Your point regarding the math education of elementary school teachers is right on, however. Instead of specific majors, those majoring in childhood development and/or early childhood education should have a MORE rigorous math curriculum, not less.

        • Michael Toso

          How do you learn any lesson, INCLUDING the standard algorithm, without students proving mastery? The teachers choose and teach the lessons and students prove their mastery.



        I’ll guarantee you that you are not getting students in high school who have been taught the standard algorithm as the prime method, and I’ll guarantee you that they are being fed a bunch of theory and not much practice. This is why they can’t do higher Math. Because while you assume they know how to add fractions with different denominators and can multiply and divide, they can’t. They are struggling with that while you are introducing the new stuff.

        Knowing the standard algorithms leads you to and proves the “reason”, but knowing the reason doesn’t teach you how to do Math.

    • Nonsense.

      And how often do we use prime factorization, square roots, and least common multiple in our real lives? I’m an educator, administrator, parent, and a business owner. I am a HUGE advocate for finding new ways to improve our math education. But of all examples you chose a standard that the majority of our public doesn’t use.

      • Jim McClain

        I hope you’re kidding. Every person who designs or constructs anything uses square roots. And if you’re a business owner and credit card information for transactions is transmitted over the Internet, you’re using an encryption that utilizes prime numbers. Maybe the majority doesn’t use them, but someone had sure better know how!

      • Benjamin Treesh

        I’d like to point out that as a high school senior, and a student in AP Calculus: AB, I use prime factorization quite frequently. Also at you “another math teacher who is too afraid to show his/her face probably because he/she is wrong” ‘reducing is a term used quite frequently for simplifying fractions… you are reducing the numbers in the numerator and denominator… i.e. 34/51 –> 2/3


        So we shouldn’t prepare them in case they want to use or learn higher math?

    • Another Math Teacher

      please stop using the word “reducing” you are not making anything smaller you are “simplifying” THANKS

      • Benjamin Treesh

        I’d like to point out that as a high school senior, and a student in AP Calculus: AB, I use prime factorization quite frequently. Also at you “another math teacher who is too afraid to show his/her face probably because he/she is wrong” ‘reducing is a term used quite frequently for simplifying fractions… you ARE reducing the numbers in the numerator and denominator… I.E. 34/51 –> 2/3

  • Michael Gerardi

    Remember “new math”? Remember “whole language”? The SAME IDIOTIC THINKING that devastated the educations of millions of school children with these preposterous notions is at it again. Presumptuous academics who think they know more than all of human civilization before them on how to educate children. Which is even more laughable in view of their abysmal record of failure. I suspect the actual motivation for “common core” is to produce still more generations of intellectual paralytics.

    Now more than ever, the entire public education system needs to be privatized, de-centralized, and de-unionized. And those who can, should home school, and return to the seven liberal arts.

    • bsrk7

      It “devastated” their educations? Don’t you think you’re overreacting a wee bit? I’m not so sure about the new standards either (that anecdote about the kids being marked down for not drawing the pants is ridiculous), but honestly I think the kids will be alright.

      I was never taught the “regrouping” method of addition and subtraction in school, but over time I developed it on my own and it’s how I always do mental math now. That tells me that these new concepts are onto something.

      And no, the entire public education system does not need to be “privatized, de-centralized, and de-unionized”. Scrapping our entire education system and handing it over to people who would teach ID instead of evolution would harm the learning process far more than these new standards.

    • whild

      I’m a high school math teacher who definitely feels like this is just one more iteration of education PhD’s who want to throw out methods that have worked for hundreds of years in favor of the newest ‘fad’. I’m a common core skeptic who wants to see the evidence – but I am open to learning some good new ways to teach math… this sounds like a productive discussion of what really works. I’m willing to wait & see what ‘new’ ideas are out there.

      As for your other suggestions, the research I’ve seen on charter schools shows they are not educating kids nearly as well as we initially thought they would (open disclosure – I sent my kids to a K-8 charter that was excellent, but good charters are pretty rare, and most of the high school charters are just plain cheating kids out of an education in favor of letting them goof off and get away with doing as little work as possible.). As for home schooling, for the lower grades they may be fine, but I worry that the kids are not learning socialization skills… & at the high school level 95% of those programs are pathetic. You will find very few Moms or Dads who know as much math as I do (MS in math & 20 yrs experience teaching HS & college math)… AND the kids just do not do as much work & learn how to deal with staying ‘on the job’ for six hours a day, like their counterparts at the local high school. We all went through it… it was a pain, but I certainly learned a lot and how to deal with working every day!

      • DRONES

        “…the kids are not learning socialization skills.”
        What, like bullying, drugs, and cell phone 101? I don’t know much about charter schools but I do that those “other” private schools out there produce far better results than public education. I don’t know what research you’re using but the prevailing scientific research shows that home school children out performed public school children.

        Isenberg E. 2007. What have we learned about homeschooling? Peabody Journal of Education, 82: 327–409.

        Kunzman R. 2009. Understanding homeschooling: A better approach to regularization. Theory and Research in Education, 7: 311–330.

        Martin-Chang S, Gould ON, and Meuse, R E. The impact of schooling on academic achievement: Evidence from homeschooled and traditionally schooled students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 43(3): 195-202.

        Rudner L. 1999. Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7(1) 1-38.

        • The Truth

          Private schools get to reject students. Public schools do not.

          • Benjamin Treesh


          • CharterParent

            Yes…they get to reject students which keeps resources from being wasted on kids who do not want to learn. It also keeps them from distracting kids who do want to learn.

        • Frustrated Administrator

          Homeschool students also have the ability to provide and afford outside the walls experience for students. Those experience enrich and add to student understanding. Unfortunately, our federal government seems to support public education with cutting funds. Funds significantly impact the opportunities for students and when there are little funds, then all items have to be prioritized. It’s sad.


            Frustrated Administrator,

            I have to agree with you on that one. I am so very thankful that I have the freedom and means to homeschool (though many families with very little money or extra resources also homeschool).

            What the homeschool community has that is lacking in the public school system is a philosophy that is responsive to being flexible with curriculum (i.e., if it isn’t working, we move to something else) and is responsive to parental input.

            Because the homeschool community is united on at least one common goal – to provide the best education they can for their children – the community has built up a wealth of knowledge through forums, homeschool community partnerships and co-ops, web sites, and many, many cultural, artistic and musical partnerships within the community who are willing to teach homeschool students.

        • Benjamin Treesh

          also i have only seen bullying once in high school
          kids need to learn how to appropriately handle that situation….
          not how to stay in a bubble and hide from it…. If you had gone to public school instead of home then you would learn to show your name not list it as drone


            That is a bunch of baloney. No child has to be subjected to bullying so they know how to deal with it. As adults, we are not required to tolerate bullying; we know that we can tell our boss, tell a policeman, or hire an attorney if necessary. At the very least, we can remove ourselves from the bullying situation. You can’t do that in school.

            All we have to teach our homeschooled children is WHAT bullying is, what it looks like, what it sounds like, and what they can and should do if they encounter it. No actual bullying required, thank you very much.

            Further, if you have only seen bullying once in high school, perhaps it is time to update your vision prescription or you need to have a better idea of what bullying actually is.

    • The Truth

      Your whole final paragraph gives you away. Unless you’re aware of some specific research showing a correlation between teacher’s union membership and student achievement, you are simply basing your argument on your opinion of unions. And never fear. “Our” man Mitch did away with unions so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about any more. Oh, and by the way, please define de-centralized. If that means big business comes in and takes the place of parents and local schools making decisions for what they deem to be best for their own children, then yes, I prefer centralized schools.

    • Kathy

      Bingo! You nailed it! Common Core is a rehash of New Math of the 1960′s and the now-discredited Whole Language of the 1980′s, which gave us kids who couldn’t do math OR language arts. Common Core was NOT written by teachers but by members of the testing industry, never field-tested, never benchmarked. Much of it is age-inappropriate, confusing, and ridiculous. Lest you think I’m uneducated, I’m a retired teacher of mathematics and English, primarily secondary school. If you want to join us in our active battle to rid the country of Common Core and its socialist agenda, look us up in NC on :

  • julian smith

    “Do we want the kids adding in columns? Absolutely. Eventually,” he says.—And thats what they said about touch points too,and now we have a whole generation that can’t add 6+8 with out tapping out the touch points or counting on their fingers.

  • jmz

    This article gives a great deal of attention to the reaction of parents. But most parents are not mathematicians, and have devoted very little time to studying childhood pedagogy. Why should the author give so much weight to parental reactions?

    • Gini Mack

      There are many learned mathematicians who have studied CCSS and concluded that our students will be ill prepared for mathematics and science when they enter college. Parents aren’t total idiots and can tell from the homework their children are doing whether or not their child is struggling with the concepts they are being taught in school. Because of CCSS parents have pulled their children out of public school and are homeschooling them. Unfortunately, CCSS is being integrated into their curriculum as well as private schools.

    • The Truth

      Could we not also ask this same question of the politicians who pass the laws that affect the education of our children?


      Yeah, well, Everyday Math relies on parents to teach to mastery. So, the parents’ reactions are very apropos.

      • ConcernedParent

        Yes…and when the parents teach the methods that work/make sense for them, the kids get slapped down in school. My kids didn’t even get a text book until 2/3 through the year. Even if I wanted to teach them these new methods, I had no way of doing so. Of course, having a deep level understanding of math myself, I saw most of these methods as remedial, moronic and a waste of my kids’ time.


          I agree. No text book. Just snippets of teaching. And the summers to make sure our children can add, subtract, multiply and divide.

    • Concerned Parent

      Mathematicians hate CC, too. I personally aced a lot of math and applied math courses (studied engineering). What I see being implemented under Common Core is a mess. Parents aren’t the only ones who feel that these standards and the curriculum designed to meet them haven’t been fully vetted or perfected.

  • David Fragale

    a poorly written advertisement…

  • Cathy Villanueva

    I find it extremely distressing that Everyday Math is represented in this article as representative of math programs using the Common Core standards. Everyday Math’s core structure is a bizarre, continual “spiraling” of several math strands (computation, geometry, probability, etc.) in each chapter, without teaching any one concept to mastery within a unit. The result is lessons that hop around and frustrate teachers and students alike. Our school switched this year from Everyday Math to Envision, which is also based on the Common Core standards but is intelligently structured, and we teachers are heaving a sigh of relief at the sensible, down-to-earth approach that kids can actually understand and thrive on. And, yes, they do learn concepts with a hands-on approach that is soon followed by a solid grounding in the standard algorithm.

  • EHB

    I am never going to understand why any district, state, school would choose the terrible Everyday over Singapore or even Saxon math curricula…is it cheaper or something? Because it certainly is not better.

  • Anthony Straine

    The only thing I see wrong with the way this is being introduced is that fact that the students who memorized basic math problems early on or didn’t need to do the visual aspects of the math were penalized for not following all the steps. Common Core doesn’t sound any different than the way I was taught math in first and second grade at school IPS 56 (Francis W. Parker) a montessori school. We used visualization as well as the standard memorizing process and I excelled in math until calculaus, and I the reason I didn’t do well in Calculaus is because I stopped caring about Math and my class was slow going.

  • CCSSIMath

    Our ongoing analysis of the Common Core math standards:

  • Frustrated Administrator

    Parents need to understand that the worksheets coming home is not part of the common core standards nor is it a curriculum. The worksheets and textbooks are resources that should support the curriculum which are the common core standards. The particular items shown in this article are from Everyday Math which is a textbook based resource that tends to only support a portion of the standards. Teachers should ensure that where there are gaps in resources to adequately meet the rigor and complexity of the standards, they utilize other resources to assist in filling in those gaps. If teachers just use the textbook as a guide, then students aren’t getting the depth and complexity of the standards taught to them. Students learn very differently these days and as educators we have to adjust our teaching standards. A lot of what our younger children are learning are concepts that tend to be abstract. Young children can’t conceptualize abstract thinking, there fore concrete objects such as manipulatives must be used to assist students in building a strong foundation. Parents don’t like the change most likely because they don’t understand the change or the homework itself.
    Common Core Standards assist in ensuring states are teaching the same things. Too often I have students enroll from other states that are FAR behind where we are as a state. This creates a huge issue, and at times the gaps can cause the appearance of a learning disability. As a nation, I believe we do need a common set of standards. Common Core Standards allow for states to add in other standards to complement and assist with differeniation as needed for their students.
    Don’t just take what you hear as gospel. Research the Common Core Standards across the states, read the purpose, and get a true understanding.

  • Denise Lew

    I have taught 6- to 11-year old children for 30 years, and now teach in Europe at a private primary (elementary) school. I have long been passionate the problems that many children have in developing conceptual understanding behind the math. I also have given math workshops where many parents and even many very conscientious teachers said that they were able to ‘get the right answer’ when they were in school, but say that they didn’t really understand the math.

    We assume that just because WE can get the right answers that this qualifies us to teach mathematics (even at the earlier levels). When we have kids who say that they are ‘not good at math’, then there is something wrong. Yes, they have learning difficulties, but over my long teaching career, I have been fortunate to have been inspired by some excellent mentors and still continue to study.

    I believe that Common Core and the NCTM beliefs make total sense. However, I also believe that the problem is no so much which program we are using, but rather that most educators – parents and most teachers alike – don’t really understand the nature of what it means to understand mathematics and how to really teach it.

    Just implementing Common Core does not ensure that children will make significant improvement in their learning. The teaching of mathematics WELL is actually much more complex and difficult than most parents and teachers know. I started out teaching very traditionally with algorithms, worksheets, etc., but was frustrated with why many kids just weren’t getting it. It was when I met an incredible mentor, Mignonne Wood, that I began to search for the answers. It has taken me about 20 years to really understand where many children have difficulty.

    How often have I heard teachers say ‘I taught it to them – why doesn’t he/she get it?” Then we say that the child just ‘needs more time.’ Rubbish! I believe that the child needs not so much ‘more time’, but rather that we as educators need to be able to look at how the child is CONSTRUCTING their understanding.

    Learning mathematics of course is easy for many children, and we pride ourselves when we can stretch these children and they do well in our classes. However, I do not measure the success of my teaching by these standards alone. It is also important that the children who struggle with math are able to understand. I have to carefully assess my work with them at every moment to see how they are building their knowledge. When they say “Ahhhhhhhhh – I get it!” then I know that I have been successful.

    Manipulatives should be used to represent meaningful CONTEXT PROBLEMS at any level and with any concept. Just using manipulatives alone is not enough – they need to have a context, meaning or story problem. This is what we mean by making math ‘meaningful’. It is also important to help the child to develop the understanding of WHY we need to learn the particular concept – just teaching children to get the answer on a worksheet doesn’t ensure understanding. In your example of reducing 34/51, I would ask you first, “Why is this important to know this particular fraction?” If you can explain to me where I might use it or describe a problem where I might use it, then it makes it much easier to figure out what I need to do with the numbers.

    If I have a group of 24 kids and I want to put them in teams of 4, then reducing 4/24 makes sense, if I want to say that I will put 1/6 if the class in each team, resulting in 6 teams. Having 8-year-olds do this first with manipulatives helps them to actually SEE what the grouping mean – then we can make meaningful connections from the visual manipulatives in groups (fractions) to the more abstract number symbols that I would write beside the manipulatives: each group is 4/24 or 1//6. Then use the equals symbol 4/24 = 1//6 to represent the reduction.

    It’s like learning about prime numbers: If kids use cubes or square tiles to make arrays (related to anything in life where we use arrays such as rows of chairs), first with 6 cubes, then 12 and 24 and 36 cubes, they learn about multiplication, division and factors. They can start exploring arrays with other numbers. We can draw their attention to the fact that some numbers like 7, 11 or 13 only have one possible array (is the flip the same array or different?) – why do you think this is? They are then quite happy to start finding ‘all’ the prime numbers! When learners see the reason for learning something, they are much more likely to engage in meaningful reasoning.

    Sorry, this is my Saturday, and I realize that I’ve already spent too much time writing this. But it bothers me that the quest for teaching children in ways that help them understand is being questioned. Teachers are very dedicated and want to do their best for children, but most teacher training courses are not adequate in helping us understand the learning process that children need in order to be successful.

    We as teachers have a huge responsibility to continue studying about how children learn. Our teaching degrees were only the beginning! We must also educate parents about what and WHY were are doing it this way. The parents of my classes always say when I have explained how I teach math, “I never thought of it this way…” They then become my greatest partners in teaching their children. And the most important thing is that the kids who struggle start to see that they CAN DO MATH!!!


      Using pie pieces or other manipulatives makes perfect sense for fractions, but that is about all in my opinion. Lattices and long lists of added numbers when kids don’t even understand how to add two two digit numbers (because they haven’t practiced enough) is ridiculous. I have no doubt you are an excellent teacher and maybe you know how to employ these methods so that ALL children are learning and MASTERING math skills, but you are not the norm. In most schools, mastery is left to the parents while teachers get to introduce the philosophy of math. Kids without parents willing or able to help just don’t learn it.

  • frustrated parent

    My daughter is using Everyday Math Common Core Edition in second grade. If you get chance review the Everyday Math website and look at “family letters” for each grade and ask yourself “what are they not telling me?”. They’re not telling you how to teach the top 25% of the class. I know from personal experience the top 25% are forced to the middle and move at the pace of the class. Year after year we will have the top 25% moving to the pace of the class which means they won’t complete Algebra 1 before high school, they won’t be on track for Calculus by senior year. Does it matter? It did in the past.. What remains to be seen is how this loss will impact the workforce 20 years from now. How will this impact Medicine? Chemistry?Engineering?
    Please remember not every school system (i.e.: Catholic Schools) has a high ability program.

  • Mark J. Slutz

    Ohio has also jumped onto the Common Core bandwagon. I’m curious how long it will last before it joins Whole Language, Cooperative Learning, Direct Instruction, and other fads of the past 20 years in the proverbial dustbin.


      Whole Language is a teaching philosophy; a way to teach children how to read and write. It IS a curriculum. It is the antithesis of a phonics based curriculum. Everyday Math is a curriculum. It is the antithesis of a math curriculum based on standard algorithms, memorization of math facts and mastery of math skills which prepare students for higher math.
      The Common Core outlines “what” students are expected to know at each grade level and then schools are free to choose whatever curriculum they want to help meet these objectives. Until people begin to understand this, public education will continue to fail many children.


    I don’t understand this article. Everyday Math has been around causing havoc since 1998. The Common Core standards were not released until June 2010. The Common Core is not a curriculum. It is a set of educational objectives for each grade level which was the result of a bipartisan effort led by state governors. It was not until President Obama’s administration gave incentives (Race to the Top) for states to adopt the standards that this current backlash ensued. Many teachers, who traditionally tend to lean more liberally, also have jumped on the bandwagon against the Common Core because the tests aligned with the core are being proposed by states to be used to assess teachers.
    This is highly political at this point. I challenge everyone who posts here to find a website that has the standards published and read through them. Choose a grade level you are familiar with and then decide whether you think the knowledge content is unworthy, too difficult, or too easy. That is what I did for third and fourth grade (I went to the State of NY website because they seemed to have their ducks in a row as far as publishing). The things that kids should know at those levels is appropriate in my opinion and one is left wondering why anyone would have to publish a standard to teach at that level in the first place and why everyone is so against it.
    I have nothing vested in the Common Core. I am not a public educator or a politician. I am a parent who pulled my daughter out of public school to homeschool her because the Whole Language and Everyday Math curriculum that is used there and has been used there well before Common Core was a twinkle in the eye is ridiculous. Education, as it is debated today, goes something like this: Teachers and unions like this, therefore it has to be bad and we are against it. Capitalists and Conservatives support this, so it is evil. Meanwhile, no one cares about what IS happening in the schools. What a waste and a crying shame.

    • Concerned Parent

      Part of the problem is that Common Core actually does call out specific models that might be used (i.e. the area model). My kids’ public school is so incompetent that they seem to think that equates to a recommendation not an option. I can’t speak for all, of course, but there are “sheeple” states that are not doing a thorough analysis of curriculum before implementing, nor are they ensuring a thorough preparation to implement. I am with you…my kids are the ones suffering. They have been accepted to a highly successful accelerated charter school for next year but if I continue to see this kind of nonsense, they will be home taught. Thank goodness I have the circumstances and the education to do it. Not every parent does. They are trapped.

  • parterre

    It’s interesting to read about Minnesota and the fact that they chose not to implement the Math part of CC.

  • ram29jackson

    kids today think a team making it to a super bowl is a 1 in 32 chance. You tell them its closer to 1 in a million and they laugh and think you are lying. They have lost all sense of logic and common sense

  • Arch00

    Do European countries, Japan, China teach “common core” math?

  • Wayne

    Yup, the old math used by Einstein was terrible so we needed to F it up with this great new way of doing it.

  • Rodrbel

    Information that a person will be able to gather from this article will be use as some sort of guide on how are they going to give a proper help to their kids and on how are they going to share common ideas that math will effectively help them.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »