California parents want calculus, not Common Core
Some parent groups in California are urging schools to keep the old key elements of math in place instead of adhering to the mantra of the new Common Core method of teaching the subject:.
The reason parents from Piedmont to Palo Alto to Pleasanton have rebelled is out of fear that their children will not get to take calculus, a subject they believe is key in competition for college admission.
Math educators who back the new Common Core standards insist they provide a needed grounding in math concepts compared with the approach of old math that has led to U.S. students’ poor performance in global math tests and the countrywide phobia of the subject. Common Core organizes math topics into related groups, similar to math teacher in high-performing countries. It focuses on problem-solving skill, not memorization.
Those who back the new standards warn against dividing students into different tracks in middle school.
But many high-performing districts retain the fast pace of old math instruction while adopting the new standards. Saratoga, Cupertino, Pleasanton, and Palo Alto schools pride themselves on high test scores, but maintain some accelerated math tracks in middle school. Those paths put students on track to take calculus in high school.
I see why parents want to ensure their students take calculus and have that advantage as they apply for colleges, but it’s also vital to make sure the foundations of math aren’t skipped over. If students don’t grasp the concepts of the subject, it could lead to college students who have a hard time with their math homework. I hope the schools in California can find ways to make sure the students are accelerated only when ready, and not pushed ahead just so they take calculus before high school graduation.