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.