What do the CC math authors say about them?

The following information is provided by Ze’ev Wurman.


The Common Core math standards were written by three people:

Bill McCallum: PhD in mathematics
Jason Zimba:  PhD in mathematical physics
Phil Daro: Masters degree in English, with some involvement in elementary math but almost no knowledge of higher math

What do the math related writers say?

Bill McCallum, a key CCSSM author, said this at the 2010 joint AMS/MAA annual meeting:

“the overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”

In March 2010 Jason Zimba, another of the key CCSSM authors, testified in front of the Mass. Board of Ed and said:

“[Common Core’s] concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”

And just recently we’ve heard from Trevor Packer, Senior VP at the College Board and in charge of its AP program, speaking at the 2013 annual conference of School Superintendents Association (AASA) (video here) and indicating that the Common Core is less rigorous than what high schools routinely teach today and, consequently, the College Board is considering eliminating AP calculus.

“In particular, AP Calculus is in conflict with the Common Core, Packer said, and it lies outside the sequence of the Common Core because of the fear that it may unnecessarily rush students into advanced math classes for which they are not prepared.

The College Board suggests a solution to the problem. of AP Calculus. “If you’re worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core, we recommend AP Statistics and AP Computer Science,” he told conference attendees.”


So, the two authors who are experts in math say the standards aren’t very high, and the AP college board says AP calculus is in conflict with Common Core and students won’t be prepared for it. It appears Common Core has put calculus on death row.  How can the Utah state board and state office of education continue to maintain that Common Core standards are more rigorous than our A- rated 2007 math standards which got most students through algebra in 8th grade and allows most students to take calculus in 12th? Common Core gets most students to pre-calculus by 12th grade, leaving them to take calculus in college.

9 thoughts on “What do the CC math authors say about them?”

    1. FYI, Common Core is a set of Standards. It is not the Curriculum. There is a vast difference between the two, which many posters on this forum seem to be missing.
      Standards are a set of minimum goals that students should meet.
      Curriculum is set by the states and school districts so it is still under local control. There is nothing stopping the states from setting their curriculum to meet these standards and going beyond them if they choose to.

      1. Common Core standards WILL become the curriculum. Every textbook publisher has probably already got most of their new materials underway to meet the needs of and support Common Core. To think textbook publishers will go above and beyond Common Core is a pipe dream. Remember what has happened to education and standards in the last decade. History repeats itself, don’tcha know. Dumbing down again. How low can ya’ go.

    2. Common Core is not a “curriculum,” and it does not prescribe precisely what should be taught or how that content should be delivered. Common Core is a set of minimum standards that students for which students are expected to be held accountable. Local districts have flexibility to meet these minimum standards in the way they see fit — nobody is forcing a particular set of lessons on students or saying more advanced content cannot be included.

      1. Feng, you’re comment is identical to one above. As publishers consolidate and produce common content to meet the standards, we will have common curriculum just like Texas had CSCOPE imposed on them for refusing Common Core’s standards.

  1. Independent analysts, Richard Rothstein and Martin Carnoy, compared U.S. results by social class to the three top performers in PISA 2009, the Program for International Student Assessment ( on which Arne Duncan based his war-cry for education reform and a Common Core.) Canada, Finland and South Korea, then England, France, and Germany share similar socioeconomic traits to the United States.
    ” According to the two scholars, the relatively low ranking of U.S. students in 2009 can be attributed in no small part to a disproportionate number of students from high-poverty schools (not lack of rigor or uniformity in standards) among the test-takers. After adjusting the… [scores] to take into account social class composition and possible sampling flaws, they estimate that the United States placed fourth in reading and 10th in math – up from 14th and 25th ranking, respectively.” (see “International Test Present Misleading Picture of U.S. Student Performance; Tim Walker; neatoday.org; Jan 28, 2013)

  2. I ran across this and wanted to say that there is reason that CCSSM is this way. The states are meant to individually, as they see fit, heighten these standards to whatever specification they want. These standards are meant to be a foundation to build off of. A good foundation!

    As far as actually curriculum goes, teachers need to be trained better on the state standards. They can use these minimal standards as guidelines (therefore use the curriculum) but need to be able to extend to reach the higher, state determined standards.

    The research into these math standards is based on over 30 years of math educators research! Just because the authors are mathematicians doesn’t mean they haven’t read and delved into the research on the teaching and learning of school mathematics. As a Master’s student in math education at BYU I know people with math degrees that know more about the teaching and learning of math than many people involved in this ridiculous “Utahns against the common core” petition.

    Read 2000+ mathematics education articles, then read CCSSM and tell me the standards are horrible and should be done away with. They are not perfect but they are better than the crap we had before!

    1. Anne, sorry, but you’re misled. States aren’t meant to heighten these standards. The assessments are national and teachers will be evaluated on their students performance. Teachers teach to the test. States can’t even heighten the standards because we’re only allowed a 15% increase of new things, not a modification of any of the copyrighted standards. 45 states have adopted them and as far as I know, Utah is the only one to ADD cursive handwriting to the standards.

      You’re correct these are minimal standards.

      Your statement that 30 years of research went into this is completely false. It’s already been proven these standards weren’t internationally benchmarked, and what the research says about top performing nations was not considered in creating Common Core. Being that you’re at BYU in the math education department doesn’t bode well for your opinion of teaching math if they are indoctrinating you into constructivism. It’s a failed philosophy and was proven ineffective back in the 70’s. Look up Project Follow-Through and then read the Sweller/Clark conclusions from their study of all the education “studies” that concluded there are no studies that support constructivism.

      I don’t need to read 2000+ math ed articles and neither do you. The Fordham Foundation already reviewed Common Core and compared it to other states. Nobody has said the standards are horrible, but they are lacking and there are better standards. What we had before Common Core was created in 2007 and it certainly wasn’t crap. It was a massive increase from what we had before. Previous to 2007 our standards were “D” rated by Fordham. After the upgrade they were “A-” rated (the same as Common Core but Fordham wasn’t bribed with several hundred thousand dollars by the Gates Foundation to rate Utah’s 2007 standards) and the USOE ignored the recommendations that Dr. Wu from Berkeley gave them which would have probably raised them to an “A”. Common Core, as adopted by Utah with the integrated method, sets most Utah students back a year by completing algebra in 9th grade. Most other states on discrete years will finish in 8th, just like those “crap” standards from 2007 you’re complaining about. Those standards got most students to calculus by 12th grade. Common Core only gets most students to pre-calc by 12th grade.

      Check back here on September 9th for more news on this topic.

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