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Teachers OK New Standards

Math on Slate by neychurluvr (Flickr Commons)
The set of common academic standards that most states are expected to adopt this year got strong reviews from a group of veteran K-12 teachers in Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun asked a selection of teachers — including some former Teachers of the Year — to read and rate the draft common core standards. And, they generally gave them thumbs up. The teachers noted that not much of the material would change, but the approach would be very different. There would be more emphasis on critical thinking, and they would have more time to dig deeper into subjects, they told the Sun.

Math teachers were particularly pleased to see that the number of topics introduced in a year would ease, thus allowing students to concentrate more fully on tough concepts before moving on. The teaching of math in the U.S. has been criticized for being a mile long and an inch deep, the paper says. Under the new standards, teachers can spend a full year teaching fractions to ensure student comprehension. After that, teachers can revisit fractions but would not have to re-teach them. Also, it says, algebra would have to be introduced by 8th grade — something many suburban schools already do, but is less common in urban schools.

The common standards were drafted by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Only Alaska and Texas have said they’re not interested.

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