Where Common Core Is Working

I was in a second grade classroom this week observing one of my elementary education majors in her room.  The cooperating teacher was leading the morning work review of two digit addition.

In what seemed as natural to us as adding 36 + 67 as we were taught (line up the numbers vertically, add 6 + 7, write down 3, carry the 1, add 3 + 6 + 1, write down 10), these second grade students fluently demonstrated five different methods to add these numbers, including drawing base ten blocks, breaking apart the numbers, using number bonds, and so on.  The vocabulary they used, the methods they implemented, and the confidence in which they solved these problems in one fell swoop showed how policymakers royally screwed up implementing the Common Core.

You see, these second graders have been taught to use various solving methods since kindergarten.  Quite simply, they do not know any other way.  As parents and educators complain that Common Core is complicated, convoluted, and unnecessary, I wish they could see how fluently these students were breaking apart numbers and reconstructing them.

The flip side to this story is where it went wrong.  Three years ago, asking fourth, fifth, sixth graders to suddenly change the entire way in which they learned math to something entirely new was setting them up for failure.  It would be like the United States suddenly deciding we would drive on the left side of the road.  Could people figure it out?  Eventually, yes.  But there would be an uprising like no other in the interim, not to mention a lot of accidents.  The crashes of the Common Core are well documented in a series of viral videos, articles, and testimonies from students, parents, and teachers who cried to come back to the old ways.    

The facts about Common Core’s flawed construction is well-documented (or see any other Diane Ravitch speech or article), and there are any number of other holes that can be identified, but with my own eyes, I saw where Common Core is working.  So to those policymakers (especially in NC looking to once again rewrite standards,  it would be a shame to have those second graders (and kindergarten and first graders) who have started their schooling with Common Core to now have to learn another whole way of learning math if we were to get away from Common Core for them.  Oh wait ……… [let that sink in for a minute]

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