You may have heard education experts, researchers or media outlets refer to mathematics curriculum in the United States as being “a mile wide and an inch deep.” The problem with math education, according to many, is that U.S. math teachers have historically been asked to cover far too many topics in each grade, resulting in students who have only a vague understanding of a lot of areas rather than a deep understanding of fewer, more essential topics. Students are introduced to advanced concepts haphazardly and before they have had an opportunity to master certain basic skills.
Of course, the Common Core State Standards are changing all that. Researchers “have concluded that mathematics education in the United States must become substantially more focused and coherent in order to improve mathematics achievement in this country,” (corestandards.org). As a result, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics will embody these three key shifts:
As the Standards for Mathematical Practice state, “students who lack understanding of a topic may rely on procedures too heavily.” Although you may not feel equipped to help your child through probability and statistics homework, you can nurture his or her acquisition of a conceptual understanding of math. Encourage your child to make connections between mathematical ideas and life, use reasoning when working on math, and think critically about how math plays a role in day-to-day life. To learn more about the Common Core State Standards for Math, visit www.corestandards.org.
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