Math teachers express support for Common Core [Letter]

January 28, 2014|Letter to The Aegis

Last spring, the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS), an organization comprised of seventeen professional mathematics societies, stated their position with regard to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). The CBMS position statement is provided herein:

"In a great act of foresight for this nation, most of the states have now adopted a consistent set of expectations for school mathematics, called the Common Core State Standards. Building on long years of work, the Common Core State Standards are an auspicious advance in mathematics education. They define the mathematical knowledge and skill that students need in order to be ready for college and career, and provide the basis for a curriculum that is focused and coherent. If properly implemented, these rigorous new standards hold the promise of elevating the mathematical knowledge and skill of every young American to levels competitive with the best in the world, of preparing our college entrants to undertake advanced work in the mathematical sciences, and of readying the next generation for the jobs their world will demand. Much remains to be done to implement the standards, in curriculum, assessment, and teacher education. But we now have, for the first time in our history, a common blueprint for this work across state lines. This is not the time to turn away from our good fortune. [We] hereby express our strong support for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics."

Following the CBMS position statement, a statement by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) was published in the Washington Post. This statement indicated, that "we believe that education policy makers and mathematics educators should resist the common wish for a quick fix and stay the course." Both the CBMS and COMAP statements communicate the need for improved mathematics education in the United States and the urgency of this need.

The CBMS and COMAP positions were recently validated with the release and related discussion of 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey results. These results indicate that the mathematical skills of students in the United States rank 36th among the developed countries of the world. In response to the PISA results, Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, Inc. stated that "we must do more to challenge and prepare our students" and that "most US states took an important step in this direction with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards."

In addition, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the largest mathematics organization in the world, recently released a position statement about the CCSSM. It states that "the Common Core State Standards offer a foundation for the development of more rigorous, focused, and coherent mathematics curricula, instruction, and assessments that promote conceptual understanding and reasoning as well as skill fluency." And they conclude, that "when properly implemented, the Common State Standards will support all students' access to, and success in, high-quality mathematics programs."

The board of directors of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM), the board of directors of the Maryland Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (MCSM), and the board of directors of the Association of Maryland Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMMTE) strongly support the standards for mathematical practice and goals described in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. The directors of these organizations also agree with the position statements of CBMS, COMAP, and NCTM. Although much has been done, there is still much to do. The MCTM, MCSM, and AMMTE boards of directors pledge to work with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and other mathematics education leaders throughout the state to provide support to teachers in their efforts towards the full implementation of the CCSSM in Maryland; bringing clarity to grade level expectations and transparency to the measurement of student achievement. MCTM, MCSM, and AMMTE will also continue to work with local education agencies to provide professional development opportunities for teachers of mathematics to challenge and prepare students to enable them to be successful in college and career, resulting in our communities successfully competing in our global economy.

Andrew Bleichfeld

President, Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics

The writer is also a teacher at Harford Technical High School.

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