Common Core Math and School Math - Student Resources

Common Core Math and School Math

student named lily working on her common core math

The goal of the Common Core State Standards is to ensure that students will be both college and career-ready. They do all this through developing their skills and knowledge by the end of high school. A secondary purpose is to have consistent criteria of grade-level expectations in English Language Arts and Mathematics across states. In the 2015-2016 school year, 42 states are officially utilizing the Common Core standards in math. Some states are repealing the standards, so this number is expected to decrease.

Learning Goals

The shared learning goals do not constitute a national curriculum. They are a list of the skills students need to know by the end of specific grade levels from K-12. The standards do not explain how to teach the content nor do they recommend what materials to use. Each state and/or school district decides what school curriculum and sequence of skills to develop in order to comply with the state standards. How neighboring school districts teach concepts vary widely because schools use different curriculums.

The Standards Design

They follow guidelines to design the Common Core standards for math. Rather than racing to cover many topics in a mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum, it aims for teachers to narrow and deepen their math focus. The key domains, algebra and geometry, are introduced as early as kindergarten and are featured throughout the grades. Other important domains are measurement, numbers, operations, functions, statistics, probability, and modeling. They intent to make these standards cohesive by connecting topics from year to year.

The Standards Aim

The standards aim to rigorously teach with equal weight: conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application of mathematical ways of thinking. To achieve these aims, word problems are embedded throughout the school grades, and children are expected to explain why their answers are correct. Children learn a variety of ways to solve a problem, and calculator usage is widespread. Some critics say schools have lost sight of the Common Core aims to develop procedural skills and fluency since they no longer emphasize calculation ability in the classroom.