Common Core math horror stories and higher-order thinking

Has your child started back to school yet? Noticed anything different about education under Common Core? Here are 3 parent’s troubling math stories about their experiences starting back into school.

1) One of my daughters decided to go back to the district junior high this year from a charter school and yesterday brought home her new Common Core math book for 7th grade. It’s the first half of the year textbook and as I flipped through it I realized she’d had a lot of this math already, some of it 2 years ago. For example, one problem at the back of this textbook was 45 minus 4.5. I went and spoke with the teacher and learned that she was going to be supplementing the class with her own more rigorous material. Our district (Alpine) did significant work selected a textbook but unfortunately because of the crisis created by the USOE’s statewide implementation so fast after Common Core was released, we had to get textbooks in place before many were available that met (or exceeded) these low standards.

2) A co-worker of mine has a 5th grader in Jordan school district who left a really solid charter school and returned to a district school. They carefully researched the teachers at the school and found the one that was supposed to be the most rigorous or accelerated that would help their son really learn math. On the first day of class, their son was devastated when the teacher announced that everyone should be excited because this year under Common Core they were going to learn their times tables, something he’d done in school 2 years earlier. The family is very concerned.

3) My senior daughter came home from her first day of A/P statistics and said the teacher told the class they weren’t going to do math till 2nd semester and would just focus on vocabulary for the 1st semester (can you say constructivism?). The class then took turns reading paragraphs out of the book. The teacher’s favorite part of each chapter is the “conversations” in the book and she assigns class members to role play them. The teacher actually did send home some math problems for these seniors, most of whom had A/P Calculus last year. The sheet was called statistics essentials. Here’s a problem from it. “If you have $15.73 and each pound of gummy bears costs $3.28 after taxes, how many pounds of gummy bears can you purchase?” I think our daughter did this level of work about 5-6 years ago. Unbelievable how dumbed down this is for our children.

You can thank the USOE for the statewide dumbing down that’s about to occur.

On Lone Peak high school’s website is an article from Principled Leadership magazine. Susan Gendron, a policy coordinator at SBAC is being interviewed by Mel Riddile about Common Core. Here’s one exchange which we hear all the time from state education officials.

Riddile: So the big picture is much higher rigor?

Gendron: Much higher. In the work I’m involved in with the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, we’re actually using a cognitive rigor matrix that was developed in 2009. It uses Bloom’s taxonomy and Norman Webb’s depth of knowledge to define what students need to be able to demonstrate to show that they’ve achieved proficiency.

I’m guessing a lot of parents are going to discover that “much higher rigor” doesn’t follow a traditional dictionary definition.

Most of us are probably familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy where people move from knowledge to comprehension to application to analysis to synthesis to evaluation to achieve what he terms higher-order thinking. Educators are infatuated with Bloom’s work in education. They spout higher-order thinking and critical thinking skills in practically every document they produce as what their goal is in education. Most of them have never taken the time to learn what Bloom’s goal was, moral relativism.

“…a student attains ‘higher order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong. A large part of what we call good teaching is a teacher´s ability to obtain affective objectives by challenging the student’s fixed beliefs. …a large part of what we call teaching is that the teacher should be able to use education to reorganize a child’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.”
-Benjamin Bloom, psychologist and educational theorist, “Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives,” pg. 185

That’s quite the statement to chew on. This is not to say that your children’s teachers are all doing this to your children, because most of them are wonderful people who genuinely want to help children learn to evaluate situations in life with the skills they are passing on. However, there are many teachers who share this prominent belief in moral relativism. When you hear the term critical thinking, to them it means thinking critically about all the morals, patriotism, and knowledge that have been passed on to you from the institutions of family and church. No institution of learning is safe from these types of philosophies, even BYU (link 1)(link 2), so you can imagine what’s happening at other universities.

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are getting a well-rounded education which includes moral absolutes, otherwise the fabric of our American republic will waste away. Freedom based in law only works when people have a solid belief system in God-given moral absolutes so that honesty and integrity are valued above situational ethics which may not always dictate fair dealings with your fellow man. George Washington’s farewell address declared morality and religion as indispensable supports to our freedom, and prominent national educators have been tearing those down for many decades.

If you have never looked into a comparison of what prominent national educators have as a philosophy compared to religious leaders, here is one to consider.

4 thoughts on “Common Core math horror stories and higher-order thinking”

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  2. As an abnormal student, I’ve seen the change Common Core has been making to the students around me.

    Before Common Core, I was just some random quirky kid. I loved learning, and I was ahead of the curriculum. There were some other friends I had that were also ahead of the curriculum, so we’d usually talk about smart-people stuff whenever we could. Now, we were only about a grade ahead, we weren’t prodigies or anything. The curriculum was nearly perfect for everybody.

    Then, Common Core hit. I remember in the first week of seventh grade (and I was in the eighth grade honors math class), when we were taught the Order of Operations. We learned that in the second grade! That entire year was a review of early elementary school.

    My solution to save as much wasted time as possible? I knew that I could get 100% on every test, so I refused to do my homework, got 100% on every test, and averaged about a D in the class.

    What did I do in my free time? I learned math. I took an hour or so each day after school so that I could actually learn. If school wasn’t going to teach me anything, I’d have to teach myself.

    After the first semester, I felt accomplished. School was wasting my time, but I managed to scrape up as much time as I possibly could.

    Second semester started, and I switched lunches, to the lunch that my previous friends had.

    Once I got there, I was devastated.

    For the first few weeks, I didn’t notice that anything was wrong, though I did think something felt off.

    No offense to them, but it eventually became clear that I was the smartest one at the table, by far. In fact, they actually knew LESS than they did in elementary school.

    Then, I realized what happened.

    When school was ruined, I was the only one who went through the work of continuing to teach myself. Everybody else didn’t bother, because they thought that school was for learning, so as long as they were ahead in school, they were still smart.

    And it kept getting worse. It continued through the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades.

    Now? I know this seems *awfully* arrogant, but I’m the only one in the entire school to move beyond what they were teaching.

    And people hate me for it. Students think of me as a know-it-all arrogant jerk, and won’t even talk to me. Teachers are mad because they think that me not doing my homework is a way of saying that I’m better than them. I even had one teacher who hated me so much, she started making homework worth the same amount as tests halfway through the quarter, just so I’d be forced to do it. I rarely managed to scrape together the time to teach myself at that point, but I used math to calculate exactly how much homework I had to do to get a D-, to gather as much time as possible.

    Isn’t it ironic how school is the #1 obstacle for my learning?

    But that isn’t the worst of it.

    You have no idea how painful it is to know so much, but not have a single person in your life to share it with.

    They’re all gone.

  3. Teachers & textbooks are struggling to meet Common Core requirements. Would help to read those standards BEFORE judging.
    Multiplication math tables ARE IN 3RD grade!!
    Higher math topics are left to locals to decide order & grade level.
    Standards are the minimum. Nothing says learners can’t learn more & faster!

    1. Hi Mike, standards in public schools are the maximum, not the minimum. It’s the rare school that blows past the standards. The reason should be clear. We have massive frequent standardized tests that teachers are accountable to that they make sure the kids know what’s going to be on the test. They are assuredly teaching to the test, not teaching for the joy of learning. What’s happened over the past 9 years due to Common Core? A drop in progress. CCSS is a failure. If only someone had warned legislators and school boards in time…

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