Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CMC statement for the ACSC for July 6, 2010.

We applaud your commitment to this important work for students in CA. You are here, because as a teacher you make a commitment everyday to ensure that our children learn math, apply math and will be prepared to pursue mathematics in their futures. You understand the realities and challenges of taking on this very important role.

California Mathematics Council (CMC) is a professional organization that represents teachers of mathematics and educators across the state from pre-K through college/university. As a voice for teachers of mathematics CMC supports the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). We believe that the standards are a natural next step for students, not a change in direction. The CCSS provide a careful and thoughtful coherence across grades with a focus on fewer concepts for each grade. Teachers will be able to provide the necessary in-depth learning experiences for students.

A look at the development of fractions shows this articulation and depth. The CCSS provide a more detailed description of how students learn fractions, which in turn, gives teachers more focus on helping students understand and use fractions. We often have to reteach fractional concepts that have already been taught. Reteaching of fractions takes a tremendous amount of time and energy in the classroom. This logical and in-depth progression for students through fractions can have a great impact on the learning of other mathematics content. There is no shortage of research that understanding fractions is foundational and critical for student success in algebra. CCSS provides a coherent progression for developing crucial understandings, which in turn provides preparation for and success in algebra.

The CCSS also provide a balance of skills and reasoning thus supporting the teaching of mathematical understanding and reasoning. State assessment is problematic in assessing student reasoning. The expectation is that new assessments aligned with CCSS will emphasize reasoning and problem solving. This is further reinforced in the reauthorization of ESEA.

CMC supports strong instruction in algebra. The progression and coherence with a focus on algebra across the grades will prepare students to be successful in algebra. To get to this point for all students requires careful consideration of the transition period from the current standards to the CCSS. As teachers we have seen many, many students inadequately prepared for algebra being inappropriately placed in a course where they were unsuccessful. Many of those students continue to fail and the residual damage for students is tremendous. The time and energy of teachers as they try to support these students is a tragic source of frustration and a sad waste of resources. Better to have students prepared so that the teaching is focused and students successful.

CMC believes that the CCSS provides the opportunity for students to be successful in learning mathematics so that they can apply and pursue mathematics at the higher levels required by a global economy in this 21st century. Because truly, the issue before us is that we are preparing students for their future.

The implementation of CCSS will require work by everyone who teaches and supports mathematics. CMC is committed to supporting mathematics and the teaching and learning of mathematics. We have worked diligently to support teachers in the implementation of the current standards and we will continue to focus our work during this transition to a revised set of standards. We believe that teachers will see these new standards as an opportunity to focus instruction and will recognize the benefit for students. Our commitment to professional development will not waiver as we once again work to align instruction and assessment in support of our members.

Your role in this outcome is critical. You know first hand that we can do better for our children. The CCSS provide a timely opportunity. You also know that the real work is ahead of us. Working collaboratively, we will manage the challenges as they come. CMC stands ready to support this very important effort.

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