Where is the Evidence, Dept.

Another comment came in that is worth putting out there.  This one was in response to my missive called Chicken Little’s Rebuttal.  For those who don’t wish to read that and get to the bottom line now, I was responding to a serial tweet (i.e., a tweet split into two to get past the 140 character barrier) that came in response to my piece on The Dog Whistles of Math Reform.

“I’m also a bit confused. So CCSS contains dog whistles which signals to reformers that they should focus on the sorts of things they were inclined to focus on? So then what’s the effect?”

Here’s the comment:

I see no Chicken Little here. My children’s experience echoes what Barry has been saying all these years.

In a way, I think of my children’s education as Before Common Core and After Common Core. Before Common Core, my children had teachers who would get on their knees and beg parents to do math facts with their children at back-to-school-night. (Unfortunately, even then math facts weren’t covered enough in the classroom.) After Common Core, the teachers just tell parents to work on math strategies with their kids. Before Common Core, my children would have timed math fact tests. After Common Core, nope. Before Common Core, the teacher would provide direct instruction. After Common Core, most of my children’s time in public school was spent in student-centered groups, where the kids would discuss the math problems with each other. My child would come home from these student discussions with the completely wrong idea of how to do basic, fundamental math.

One of my kids started Common Core about two years before the 7th grade split, so we have had a test of sorts to see how everybody is doing. Some kids got through this type of teaching just fine, and got into advanced math and are doing fine. Other kids used to be strong at math before Common Core but now…. aren’t. It’s interesting, too – I’ll look at those smart kids who didn’t make the split, those kids who used to be “good” at math before Common Core started, and automatically think that the teaching style of the last two years had something to do with their missing the cut-off. Their parents, though? Their parents blame the kids, in a way. The parents just tell the kids that math isn’t their strong subject. Two years ago, it was.

I’m grateful that I came across Barry’s writing shortly after Common Core started, and I’m grateful that I read the comments on his articles. I would have worked with my kid anyway when she had problems. But reading the comments helped convince me to take her help to the next level – to buy additional curricula that the school wasn’t using and to go through the math (all of it) with her myself (I used Art of Problem Solving’s series). That technique helped keep my child’s fundamentals strong, and I would recommend it highly to all parents who have children learning with reform math in public elementary school.


3 thoughts on “Where is the Evidence, Dept.

  1. We’re entering an era where even a lot of younger teachers have never seen traditional math. They think back to their schooling in the 1990s under some variation on fuzzy math and they see little difference between the dog whistle-inspired interpretations of CC and what they experienced as kids. They think THEY learned under “traditional math” but in fact it was only a minor variant on the “reform” tradition they are steeped in.

    If we just wait another generation perhaps we’ll be able to introduce genuine traditional math instruction and sell it as the latest new innovation in how to teach math … 22nd Century Learning!


    • This is my thought as well. All those coming into the ranks…with no real concept of straightforward arithmetic ever been exposed by our new teachers.

      This is concerning.

      Maybe we’ll need Asian/Singapore/UK students coming over to teach our kids. One can only hope…


  2. Pingback: Educational Reader’s Digest | Friday 31st March – Friday 7th April – Douglas Wise

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s