New Content Standards Require Instructional Change
Significant Changes in Teaching and Learning are Needed
The research-based standards movement that led to the creation of new state standards for mathematics require significant changes in the teaching and learning of mathematics. In our experience, we have found that these changes are not well known or understood. Our dedication to partnering with school districts to increase student achievement in mathematics begins here.
New Standards in Two Parts
The new math standards are written in two parts: grade level Standards for Mathematical Content and K-12 Standards for Mathematical Practice. For non-Common Core states, the Standards for Mathematical Practice might be called “mathematical processes,” “actions and processes,” or “practices” and may or not be official standards. Regardless, students in most states must demonstrate reasoning, problem-solving, communication, and analysis competencies.
The content standards tell “what students should understand and be able to do” and are focused on a few major topics. This change allows for the time it truly takes for students to develop a deep understanding of the content through conceptual development. Many content standards include the word “understand” and do intend for students to fully make sense of, explain, and be able to apply the given content, not just to be able to produce a correct answer by following a procedure, as was expected in the past.
Standards for Mathematical Practice or Process Standards
While students can learn some mathematics without deep understanding (as many of us did in our own pre-Common Core Standards era), they cannot fully master the Content Standards without deep understanding. The Standards for Mathematical Practice or Process Standards, which “describe varieties of expertise that mathematics educators at all levels should seek to develop in their students,” are the key to this understanding.