Hopkins professor sees common core as step to improving math instruction

From Education Next:

CAMBRIDGE, MA – More than 40 states have now agreed to adopt the Common Core standards in English Language Arts and math.  In a forum released today on the website, www.educationnext.org, former U.S. Department of Education official Ze’ev Wurman and Johns Hopkins University professor of mathematics W. Stephen Wilson offer differing opinions about the standards.  Wurman and Wilson address key issues raised – including 1) how much the standards will improve on those currently in place in various states, 2) whether they will resolve deep disagreements over what skills constitute sound math education, and 3) whether they might have the unintended consequence of removing incentives for further improvement.

Both Wurman and Wilson acknowledge the urgent need for improvement in math curricula if the U.S. is to become more competitive internationally.  Wilson notes the dramatic withdrawal from arithmetic in the elementary grades that has occurred over the past two to three decades, reflecting the mistaken but increasingly popular view that learning whole number operations (such as the multiplication tables) to the point of instant recall is bad for a student, not necessary to higher math, and impedes students’ ability to understand mathematical principles

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