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Common Core Basics

The Common Core: Mathematics

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. (Learn more about Common Core implementation in your state.) The Standards are not a curriculum. Instead, they provide guidelines for schools to design curricula so that students can develop complex problem-solving skills and achieve college and career readiness. 

Master key concepts

The Standards for Mathematics ask students to spend more time on fewer concepts. Through intensive practice, they will learn to carry out mathematical procedures quickly and accurately. At the same time, they will be challenged to develop a deep understanding of underlying mathematical concepts. Students should not just get the right answer. They should also know why an answer is right.

Be aware of what your child may have struggled with in previous years and how that could affect learning this year. Make sure he gets extra support to develop skills he may be lacking, and keep track of his progress and ability to complete homework assignments. This is important because the Standards ask students to build on their knowledge year after year.

How and why

Since students must spend time practicing lots of problems in the same area to develop speed and accuracy, parents can help by providing the time and encouragement needed to master Math facts and operations. 

You can help your child develop a deeper understanding of key topics by talking Math. When he solves problems, have him explain how he did so. Make sure he always checks his work. Your child should get into the habit of asking, “Does this answer make sense? Why or why not?”

Real-world problem solving

Students must be able to apply Math in real-world situations. This means knowing what mathematical concept to use to solve a particular problem. To give your child extra practice, have him compare the value of products in a store, estimate the tax on a purchase, or calculate the tip at a restaurant. 

The Standards aim to help students see the usefulness of Math in navigating a range of real-world situations, know the value of perseverance in solving a problem, and develop confidence in their ability to arrive at the right solution. 

New assessments

Two consortia, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced, are creating computer-adaptive assessments that will be administered for the first time in the 2014-15 school year. The new assessments will require young people to understand mathematical concepts and solve problems according to their grade level. Students will also be asked to explain their reasoning.

To learn more about the assessments, visit PARCC or Smarter Balanced.