Math Core Standards are Good for Utah Students

Undoubtedly, you have heard those who are speaking against the Common Core. For reasons, sometimes difficult for me to understand, they believe the core will not help our students.

I do not see it that way, and neither do a lot of other people.

In this blog (and also a second one which will follow in a few days), I am simply reprinting some testimonials of educators and parents from throughout the State emphasizing the values of the math core.   These quotations are excerpts of letters which have been sent to the State Board of Education in the past few weeks.  They speak passionately about the values of the Math Core.

Christie Tolbert, Math Teacher, Juab High School:  “I feel strongly that Utah’s standards are beneficial to the education of our students….They compel us as teachers to be more proactive, more involved, more malleable.”

Barbara B. Kuehl, Director Academic Services and Professional Development, Salt Lake City School District: “The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics are an outstanding set of standards that have the potential of raising the achievement of American students to internationally-competitive levels….It would be a serious mistake to try to turn back the clock.”

Ken Rowley, Principal, Juab Junior High School:   “We are seeing that students are benefiting in all subjects due to the approach to math….They are learning how to be problem solvers…rather than answer seekers….This approach to learning is helping all of our students perform better in Science, English, History, Health, etc.”

Dawn Barson, Mathematics Educator, Alpine School District, currently on administrative assignment at BYU: “The current Utah core is a move in the right direction.  These standards support college and career readiness, while simultaneously moving us in the direction of 21st century mathematics.  The mathematics needed currently and in the years to come is not the same as the mathematics required in previous generations.”

April Leder, School Teacher, Traverse Mountain Elementary, Lehi:  “As teachers who are preparing our students to live and work in the 21st century, we need to teach students differently than we were taught. …I’m asking you to stay committed to what is best for students, which is the Common Core.”

Emina Alibegovic, Associate Professor, Mathematics Department, University of Utah:  “While our 2007 standards were of fine quality, the Utah Core Standards for mathematics today are better yet.  The fact that we chose the integrated model shows our foresight….Mathematics isn’t developed through a disconnected set of skills and topics, but is, rather, a connected web of ideas.  Our students will become much more flexible thinkers if we present mathematics to them in such a manner.”

Joylyn McBride, Math teacher, Vista Heights Middle School, Saratoga Springs: “In my short time teaching I have seen massive improvements in the abilities and understanding of our students.  While the first year of implementation was rough…the second year was much smoother.  The students that came to me in my second year of teaching were more prepared for studying math, not just learning algorithms.  My students were able to analyze, compare, debate, create, and use math in ways they would not have done in the previous core.”

Douglas Corey, Mathematics education professor, BYU: “In my professional opinion they are fine standards.   The progression of mathematical ideas, concepts, and skills are well thought out….The integrated model is an international standard and gives students a much better opportunity to learn the mathematics well.”

Scott Hendrickson, Department of Mathematics Education, Brigham Young University:  “In my 35 years in math education I have taught using a succession of different sets of core standards.  I find this current set of standards far superior to anything that has previously been produced in the state due to its focus, coherence and rigor.  I look forward to a bright future for my grandchildren’s education as they participate in instruction grounded in these thoughtful standards.”

Brynja Kohler, Mathematics Professor, Utah State University:  “I support Utah’s adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and the integrated/international secondary model….Changing standards would be enormously costly, a slap in the face for dedicated teachers, and be a promise broken to our kids.”

Karen Feld, Math Teacher, Pleasant Grove Junior High School: “By using these new practices and making different mathematical connections I have seen an increase in student thinking and learning in my classroom….Changing the core is not the answer. It will not help in educating our students; it will only hinder their progress.”

Rachel Rolf, parent and math educator, Salt Lake City School District:  “I love to see all students, including my own children, push through a difficult new mathematical situation and feel pride in coming to their own solution…I believe that the Utah Math Core Standards are what is best for student in our state.”

Carrie Bala, Math teacher, Wasatch High School:  “I am writing in support of the Utah Math Core Standards.  Over the last three years of implementation, student have become problem-solvers.  Students are willing to read, make sense of problems, try different approaches, and communicate their results.”

Jennifer Boyer-Thurgood, Director, Elementary Mathematics Teachers Academy, Utah State University:  “I am the mother of three children who attend Weber County schools….I have spent a decade teaching in the elementary classroom, thousands of hours researching mathematics, and countless hours meeting with national mathematics experts from all over the country….I believe whole-heartedly that the Utah Core, as it is, is good for teachers and students.”

The above quotations are samples of many I have heard or received which testify of the core’s strength.  You will be receiving another letter in a few days with a different set of quotations—all with the same bottom line:  the Common Core standards in math sequenced in an integrated way will and are having a positive impact for students.