Bill Schmidt Argues that CC Math is Two Years Behind

How do Common Core math standards compare to high achieving nations? We can look at “Benchmarking for Success,” a late 2008 clarion call for Common Core by NGA/CCSSO/Achieve.

There, on page, 24, when it describes “Rigor” it says:

Rigor. By the eighth grade, students in top-performing nations are studying algebra and geometry, while in the U.S., most eighth-grade math courses focus on arithmetic. In science, American eighth-graders are memorizing the parts of the eye, while students in top-performing nations are learning about how the eye actually works by capturing photons that are translated into images by the brain. In fact, the curriculum studied by the typical American eighth-grader is two full years behind the curriculum being studied by eighth-graders in high-performing countries.” (added emphasis)

This, in turn, cites an editorial-style 2005 piece by Bill Schmidt (one of the CC math standards authors) in the AFT’s American Educator (here):

“By the middle grades, the top achieving countries do not intend that children should continue to study basic computation skills. Rather, they begin the transition to the study of algebra, including linear equations and functions, geometry and, in some cases, basic trigonometry. By the end of eighth grade, children in these countries have mostly completed mathematics equivalent to U.S. high school courses in algebra I and geometry. By contrast, most U.S. students are destined for the most part to continue the study of arithmetic. In fact, we estimate that, at the end of eighth grade, U.S. students are some two or more years behind their counterparts around the world.” (added emphasis)

In other words, Bill Schmidt himself argues that by the end of grade 8 students in high achieving countries cover both Algebra 1 and Geometry, leaving grade 9 to Algebra 2. Contrast that with Common Core that expects Algebra 1 completion in grade 9 for students that don’t accelerate with extra work. In contrast, in the last decade, California, which benchmarked its standards to be six months behind the high achieving nations, tripled the number of students proficient in algebra 1 by 8th grade, and was actually a 5-6x increase for low-socio economic students and minorities. A stunning achievement which should be the model math standards Utah adopts. No need to enter “honors” programs at an early age. No need to double up on classes or take summer coursework. Just the standard path for students. Details here.

4 thoughts on “Bill Schmidt Argues that CC Math is Two Years Behind”

  1. Yes, we ought to demand math excellence for our schools! I’d really love to see a module type of program so kids can go at their own speed instead of being stuck with every other student at the same place at the same time. Let the kids use a curriculum like California’s and teach it in go-at-your-own-pace modules so kids can go as far as they can. Kids who struggle could spend more time to understand a topic better. My kids (dual enrolled) are basically teaching themselves math using the Saxon program this year (just couldn’t let them lag behind the rest of the high-achieving world doing algebra in 8th grade), and they are going at their own pace doing very well. Very seldom do they even need my husband or I to “teach” them a topic. They are reading the chapter material and doing the assignment themselves and pulling down great grades too. I absolutely love it, and wish all kids could do math this way.

  2. My son came home from school feeling like he was stupid! The CC had him up late every night doing homework that none of us really grasped until several calls to the teacher. My wife brought him home and put him on Saxon math. He began to build confidence in his math skills again and homeschool does not go all-day and late into the night. He has been able to learn guitar and even composed his own song. He has time to play and relax for part of his day. We now have a boy who can buckle down and study hard then go out and work with his horse and play hard, then come in and study his music. This is much more well rounded. On his last math review test he only missed one question. I am so proud and excited for him. He enjoys learning again! He enjoys life and takes on challenges because he knows he is not stupid! This boy is on track once again to follow his older brothers who did not have to suffer through CC. One brother is an Orthodontist, another is a contracting officer in the Air Force, and one is in his third year of engineering and the University. I can now see my youngest accomplishing great things, but it took us pulling him out of the public school system where I teach (awkward)!

  3. Federal government is overreaching into education. This should be a local/State issue on what is in our curriculum. The Federal common core standards should be abandoned. Utah can create its own standards. About everything the Federal government gets involved with ends up more inefficient and worse.

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