Unless high school students can prepare for a calculus course in grade 12 or as college freshmen, they are unlikely to become science, engineering, or mathematics majors. Common Core doesn’t let them. James Milgram’s analysis in Lowering the Bar makes that very clear.
Interestingly, Jason Zimba, the lead writer of the Core’s math standards, noted as much at the March 2010 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. He explained that Common Core’s version of college readiness means getting kids ready for non-selective community and state colleges. According to the official minutes of the meeting: “Mr. Zimba said that the concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.” Just in case that isn’t clear enough for you, dear reader, here are Mr. Zimba’s videotaped comments at the meeting.
These folks need to be put on the record – how do they justify signing onto a set of mathematics standards that do not lead to STEM careers?
That is why in a September 2013 Hechinger Report piece Zimba acknowledged that: “If you want to take calculus your freshman year in college, you will need to take more mathematics than is in the Common Core.”
Some experts have criticized the math standards for moving too slowly. If educators follow the Common Core through middle school, for instance, students will not encounter Algebra I until high school.
“If you do algebra in grade eight, then you ... can reach calculus by grade 12,” said Ze’ev Wurman, a former Department of Education official under George W. Bush who participated in the creation of California’s highly-regarded math standards. Calculus is “not mandatory for being accepted to colleges, but selective colleges expect it,” Wurman added.
Jason Zimba, a professor of physics and math at Bennington College in Vermont and lead writer of the math standards, says they include “an awful lot of algebra before eighth grade,” even though the first full course doesn’t come until high school.
But Zimba also acknowledges that ending with the Common Core in high school could preclude students from attending elite colleges. In many cases, the Core is not aligned with the expectations at the collegiate level. “If you want to take calculus your freshman year in college, you will need to take more mathematics than is in the Common Core,” Zimba said. ...., her approach is less didactic and one-dimensional. Instead of telling the class that two plus three equals five and having them copy it, she allows her students to use their manipulatives and teach each other different ways of solving the equation. After Jasmine taught a brief lesson in the many facets of the number five during the first week of school, students created their own number journals, representing each of the first 10 numbers in a variety of different ways. One student drew one cookie, two flowers, three balloons, four balls, five triangles, six lines, seven squares, eight balloons, nine lines, and 10 dashes. The students bantered quietly among themselves, asking each other to identify images of ant eaters and va