A stronger math program is being built within the Clintonville Public School District (CPSD), thanks to hard work from educators and framework provided by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English language arts and mathematics that states can voluntarily adopt. The standards have been informed by the best available evidence and the highest state standards across the country and globe and designed by a diverse group of teachers, experts, parents, and school administrators, so they reflect aspirations for children and the realities of the classroom.
These standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce and that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. The standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that our students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace.
CPSD Math Instructional Coach Terri Schultz said that math education in the United States is changing, with 45 states and 3 territories already having adopting the CCSS.
“The CCSS is the framework that is driving the change in our educational philosophies,” said Schultz. “These are rigorous standards that are designed to help our students catch up and keep up with other students around the globe.
“Many students know math procedures, but don’t understand math concepts,” said Schultz. “For many years, we have taught procedurally-driven math, which has led to some people having misconceptions about how the procedures need to be applied.”
Schultz’s position, which was created recently, focuses on working with math teachers in the district to train them how to teach CCSS.
“We are having monthly training meetings at the middle school level,” said Schultz. “We have half-day sessions for the teachers one month, and we meet with the teachers on their own time the next month.”
Schultz said the program began at the elementary school last year, and the middle school and high school began preparing to institute the program last spring.
“CCSS is very strong in the use of visual models and problem-based inquiry learning,” said Schultz. “It’s very different from what we’re used to, and it’s very powerful.
“In the elementary school, students may work on just one problem during their class period, instead of being given a homework assignment consisting of 40 problems to be worked out,” commented Schultz. Class times have also changed, with students in grades K-6 spending about an hour in their math classes, as opposed to 45 minutes in the past.
“We have also added intervention classes for grades 5-9,” stated Schultz. “The goal with these classes is to raise the math achievement levels of those students.”
“We call it the Swiss cheese model,” explained Schultz. “Many students have misconceptions or ‘holes’ in their understanding of math. The intervention classes will focus on plugging those holes. Intervention classes feature teaching that is very specific to student needs – it’s very individualized.”
Intervention classes take place during the school day, and students must give up an elective in order for this to occur. Schultz said this is not uncommon, as many schools across the country have similar requirements.
“We also need to educate parents and community members,” continued Schultz. “We want them to know and understand what’s going on in their students’ math classes. Math education doesn’t look the same as it did when parents were in school.”
The district has already had one “Math Night” for grades K-5. Over 100 people attended, and were led through a series of rotations to see how kids are learning math differently. More Math Nights are planned for the future.
“It is an exciting time to be a math teacher,” concluded Schultz. “CCSS are going to do good things for math education in Clintonville, and in the United States as a whole.”