Have you noticed the increased rigor this year in math? Are you a little confused about the math activities and homework your child is doing? You are not alone. Let me explain why.
Ohio is one of 45 states and 3 US territories who have recently adopted the national Common Core Standards. These standards were developed after research into what it takes to be college and career ready after high school and to compare with the high academic expectations of other high-performing nations. The Common Core standards are much more rigorous and require more critical thinking, problem solving, and explanation of processes than the curriculum our children have been exposed to in the past. In addition, very soon the state assessments (OAA, OGT) will be replaced by new, more rigorous tests that are now being developed by an organization called PAARC (see link below).
Twinsburg spent much of last year educating our staff about the Common Core Standards in general, followed by a focus on mathematics. We brought in experts from Summit and Cuyahoga County and conducted several days of professional development to educate our teachers about the new expectations. A committee of teachers, led by our Director of Learning and Technology, then studied the available textbooks and materials offered by educational publishers to find the best textbook series K-6th grade to align with the new Common Core. Our goal was to find a series that had demonstrated alignment with the new mathematics expectations, had a technology component (the new assessments will be online), and offered resources for intervention and enrichment. The consensus of this committee (and the teachers who all had an opportunity to look at the materials) was that GoMath offered these elements and provided the in-depth study of mathematics concepts that is so important for our students. The district Curriculum Committee approved the recommendation, as did the Board of Education.
some of the concepts and strategies being introduced to students are different from the way we may have learned math. This is by design because at our level we are building the foundation so students can build on this exposure as they progress through the grades. Some strategies will be easier to grasp and others will be more difficult. You will find more requirements to solve problems in multiple ways and students will be asked to explain why they used a certain method to determine their answer. As I visit classrooms, look at homework assignments, and review tests, I sometimes have to stop and think and I find myself wondering what the publisher is asking students to do. Without the benefit of the teacher's manual, it is understandably difficult for parents to see the logic in what is being taught.
This year, the standards are new and the textbooks are new. It is a challenge for everyone to work through it as we become more comfortable with the changes. But, every day I see teachers working hard, collaborating, and finding the best way to help their students develop a deep understanding of mathematics concepts that goes well beyond the rote memorization of math facts and the steps of how to solve a math problem of the past. I am confident that as our current kindergarten and first grade students progress through the grades they will graduate with a stronger, deeper knowledge base that will make them college and career ready.
Below are some links I suggest you look at to gain a better understanding of the Common Core Standards and the direction Ohio is moving.
Higher Expectations for a Brighter Future - Ohio Department of Education Video
Ohio Department of Education
Look for "Academic Content Standards", "Resources: Ohio's New Learning Standards: K-12 Mathematics", "K-8 Progression", and "Resources"
Parents' Guide to Student Success on the National PTA website
Look for "FAQs" and "Printable Guides by Grade"
PARCC Consortium (23 states are working together to develop common assessments K-12)
Look for "Items and Task Prototypes" - there are none for K and 1st grade yet, but you can look at the 3rd grade expectations
I hope this information is helpful. We are also planning a Family Focus Night which is tentatively scheduled for November 27th 6:30-8:00 at the high school. We will have four 15-20 minute sessions about math, English/language arts, a new assessment system we will be starting (MAPs), and resources at the Twinsburg Public Library. Look for information to come home soon.
As always, please contact your child's teacher or me with any questions or concerns you may have.