**by Ashlee Lain, PhD.**

For a number of years, states have been transitioning to a new set of math and English language standards for grades K-12, known as Common Core Standards. I know a number of parents that are very concerned about these new standards. My goal in this post is to help parents better understand the Common Core Math Standards and address common misconceptions about this new teaching style.

**Common Core Standards**

Let me first start by asking you this, have you ever learned something for a math test and then immediately forget about it once the test is over? I am guilty of this myself! Such an experience is the result of memorizing answers and not actually learning the concepts. What good is memorizing an answer for a test when we are eventually going to have to apply that math concept to a real-world problem down the road? According to The Foundation for Excellence in Education, the new Common Core Standards will require students to “accurately calculate equations, understand concepts not just memorize answers, and accurately select the best mathematical concept or equation to solve real-world problems, while demonstrating why the method or equation they selected was accurate.”

The Common Core consists of a set of standards for each grade level. These standards are grouped under Domains, which are key concepts that can be covered over a number of grade levels. For example, students in the third grade learn a set of standards under the Operations and Algebraic Thinking domain. They will continue to learn additional standards under the Operations and Algebraic Thinking domain until they are in sixth grade. Once they are in sixth grade, additional domains are introduced. Therefore, the Common Core curriculum is set up to build on a strong foundation that is learned over a number of years. Once the foundation is in place, students are able to tackle the more difficult problems they will encounter in high school and college with the overall goal to better prepare students for college and their careers.

**Misconceptions**

When it comes to Common Core Math, many critics claim that “new math” is more complicated than “old math.” What these critics don't realize is that students are still learning “old math” concepts in school; however, they are also being introduced to new concepts that will allow a student to choose which concept makes the most sense to them. Let’s be honest, none of us learn exactly the same way. What works best for one student may not be the best strategy for another student. Exposing students to multiple mathematical concepts will provide a more diverse student population with the tools to be successful in math.

Some critics question the new set of standards and claim that the old set of standards were working just fine. However, according to the ACT Corporation in their yearly

*publication*

*The Condition of College and Career Readiness*, three-quarters of high school students are not prepared academically for their first year of college. Additionally, in California, only 28% of eighth grade students are proficient or above in math, less than our national average at 34%. These numbers are not even comparable to those of other countries. Therefore, our old set of standards is just not working and something had to change with the way we are teaching math to our students. That change is known as Common Core.

Some parents believe that since the new Common Core Standards are being implemented nationwide, that schools will not be able to adapt the curriculum to fit their students’ needs. Even though the Common Core Standards have been adopted by a number of states, each state can customize the given standards to best fit the needs of their students. Therefore, the new Common Core will allow for more innovation, varied examples, and options in regards to curriculum. Teachers will have the flexibility to creatively teach their students as long as they meet the standards set in place.

**Common Core and The Inspired Mind Learning Center**

You may be asking yourself why we are so interested in the Common Core Standards at The Inspired Mind Learning Center. First of all, we understand that Common Core math may be difficult for a number of students, and even some teachers, to fully understand. Here at The Inspired Mind Learning Center, our curriculum is based on the new Common Core Standards so our lessons are completely seamless. Your child will take an assessment that will tell us exactly which lessons they need to review in order to be successful in their current math class. Working one-on-one with a tutor, students are able to get individualized attention and learn math in a way that is tailored to their learning style. By building a strong foundation and learning key math concepts, students will not only be able to apply what they have learned to classroom assignments, but also to solve real-world problems.

**References**

The Foundation for Excellence in Education: excelined.org/