Monday, April 1, 2013

Math and the Common Core Standards...

I recently did a series of posts on the history of math and various math methods.  You can find them here...Post 1, Post 2, and Post 3.  I want to follow up in regard to math and the Common Core Standards (CCS).  Common Core Standards??? may say, but why, I homeschool, what does it matter?  Well, many of the well known homeschool math curricula companies have created revisions that comply with the CCS, including Math Mammoth, Rightstart Mathematics, and Math-U-See.  I'm on a few different Yahoo Group Forums and there has been controversy over the CCS among homeschoolers so I decided to do some research and see for myself what the fuss is.

There are forty-five U.S. states that have adopted the Common Core Standards.  I found a 10 minute webinar here explaining math and the CCS. Though it is geared for classroom teachers, I did find it helpful.  Keep in mind the standards are not curriculum.  They are simply a set of goals to achieve within the curriculum.  It appears there are 3 main objectives behind the math CCS...

1) FOCUS - the focus should be on fewer concepts allowing the student to go deeper in procedural knowledge and conceptual understanding which will promote mastery

2) COHERENCE - the concepts should be presented in a systematic sequential progression designed to build on each other vs. jumping from content to content or from skill to skill - spiral curriculum is no longer recommended

3) RIGOR - the goal should be knowledge or understanding to promote abstract thinking, not necessarily regarding degree of difficulty or doing math from rote memorization, but being able to transfer knowledge from one concept to the next and applying math fluently in a usable means

As noted above, several homeschool curricula publishers have recently created revisions aligning their programs with the CCS.  These publishers suggest the revisions were in the works prior to CCS and that aligning with CCS is a bonus that will benefit homeschool families.  They cite the example that many families homeschool in states with mandatory testing requirements and this alignment will help those testing families.

Maria Miller, author of Math Mammoth, has revised the Math Mammoth Light Blue Series grades 1-4 and is working on grades 5 & 6, as well as The Golden Series. You can read more about that alignment here

Dr. Joan Cotter, author of RightStart Mathematics, has revised Level A and is currently working on subsequent levels.  You can see the availability schedule and learn more about those revisions here

Steve Demme, author of Math-U-See,  has revised Primer through Zeta to align with CCS.  I spent some time checking out the new samples on the MUS website since I have the hardbound editions of every level affected except Zeta. In comparison, the table of contents has not changed and neither did the workbook pages that were displayed other than extra added enrichment pages in the test book. When I look at the 3 main objectives of the CCS, it appears to me that CCS aligned with MUS, not that MUS aligned with CCS ;-)  You can see samples of the new books as well as MUS's spin on CCS here.

I mentioned the controversy among homeschoolers using current editions of RightStart and Math-U-See.  Some families will not be upgrading to new editions for financial reasons.  Some will not update because they view CCS as a loss of freedom.  They in no way shape or form want to take a chance of being affiliated with any government educational program.  Some homeschool families will have no choice as new editions are printed, the old will no longer be available, as is already the case with Math-U-See.  After researching the CCS, I don't see them as a detriment.  I think for many change is hard regardless of the motive. 

As many of you know from my previous posts, we are undecided about which math program we will be continuing with next fall.  We are fortunate not to live in a mandatory testing state so I don't feel compelled one way or another to align with the CCS.   On the other hand, I am disappointed to think that I have editions of RightStart and MUS that are no longer current.  It will be cost prohibitive for our family to update, which means I will need to tweak in order to make new consumable student books compatible with older teacher editions.  This does equate to more work on my part...sigh

What is your take on the CCS?  Will it make a difference in your math curriculum choices?


  1. To be honest, I have only JUST heard about the CCS controversy. BUT...I know that we do not want the government dictating what we should and should not teach our children. We will probably avoid curriculum that aligns with CCS. We used to be a hardcore Math-U-See family! Oh how I love their curriculum! This change might alter our using it from here on out, though.

    Thank you for sharing all of this information!

  2. You're welcome Shannon :) It's a hard call for many families. I would recommend researching the MUS website, looking at samples and even contacting a rep from the company before making a decision. I'm excited to have the opportunity to do this networking at an upcoming homeschool convention I'll be attending in a couple of weeks. I'm a very visual person who loves to look at, touch and feel the books so I look forward to visiting the RightStart and MUS booths. Best of luck in your decision.


    1. Great idea! Please let me know what you find out at the convention. I probably won't make it to any conventions this year. Take care!

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