A Letter to my 4th Grade Daughter’s School about their Implementation of the Common Core Math Standards

I continue to be frustrated with how Common Core is being implemented, and a school like H. Clarke Powers, which is usually excellent, is doing many of the dumb things that other schools are.  Thus, when I saw a handout tonight that my daughter was doing, that made very little sense, I wrote the following to her teacher:

I generally support the changes in education that HCP has implemented, and I also mostly support Common Core.  BUT, the handout you gave my daughter tonight was awful, and is the type of curriculum that is giving Common Core a bad name.

First, the standard that apparently was being taught to, was 4.OA.1, which states:

Interpret a multiplication equation as a comparison, e.g., interpret 35 = 5 × 7 as a statement that 35 is 5 times as many as 7 and 7 times as many as 5. Represent verbal statements of multiplicative comparisons as multiplication equations.

While this particular standard is reasonable, it is unreasonable to try and force someone to draw pictures to describe this.  Further, the worksheet from Engage NY did not use common English, so even understanding what was meant was difficult. Further, the last word problem was simply wrong, and I had to add some words to it, to have it make sense.   While I’m glad to see HCP utilizing open content, I am not happy to see you take the content verbatim without improving it, or seeing if it really is the best way to teach to the standard.

If you and the other teachers are to teach Common Core properly, you must understand what Common Core is actually saying, and not assume that others have made the best curriculum.  By using bad curriculum, you are just frustrating kids and parents, and continuing to cause people to blame the standards, when the curriculum is actually at fault, and the school has the control over the curriculum.

Jacob J. Walker

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