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Review of first draft of Oklahoma Standards re-write

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Wilson

The standards are not written in a clear and concise manner. Many standards have embedded

pedagogy similar to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M). In looking

through the K-6 standards, while I see similarities like the one just mentioned, it does not appear the

CCSS-M served as the model for these standards. The introduction indicates the NCTM standards and

some others were used. There are better standards that could be used as models than the NCTM

standards or those of any states the intro indicates were used. IN and CA had excellent standards

that are well written, clear, concise, and relatively free of pedagogy, yet they were not used.

The Vision and Guiding Principles indicate these standards as having students becoming

mathematically proficient and literate. From looking at the standards, it appears they may be okay for

math literacy but it is questionable these standards will develop mathematical proficient students.

These standards lend themselves to the same kinds of things parents are not liking about materials

being used with their children to address the CCSS-M. Standards for Pre-K are included in this draft.

While I have some concern about the developmentally appropriateness of some standards in the early

grades, the concern is not as great as with the CCSS-M. I would leave determination of

developmental appropriateness to others better qualified. Too much emphasis is placed on the

Mathematical Actions and Processes by having them appear with each standard. The standards

document would be well served by simply listing clear and concise pedagogy free standards. The

related Mathematical Actions and Processes for each standard can be presented in a document to

supplement the standards.

Many of the standards could easily be rewritten to strengthen them. As an example, here is a second

grade standard:

2.N.1.6 Use place value to compare and order whole numbers up to 1000 using comparative

language, numbers, and symbols (e.g., 425 > 276, 73 < 107, page 351 comes after 350, 753 is

between 700 and 800).

This could be rewritten to read:

Compare and order whole numbers up to 1000 using place value, comparative language, numbers,

and symbols.

Even better, clearer, cleaner, and crisper:

Compare and order whole numbers up to 1000.

What is it we want students to do? What do we want to emphasize? Use place value or compare and

order? With this standard, I would want students to compare and order. As it is written, the emphasis

is on place value. Place value is important and I do want students to understand and use it, but it

appears this standard calls for students to compare and order. If well taught, given a standard like

“Compare and order whole numbers up to 1000” students will use place value without it needing to be

in the standard. Could they successfully compare and order without using place value?

Many of the standards present themselves in a manner similar to the one below.

2.N.1.5 Recognize when to round numbers to the nearest 10 and 100. Emphasis on understanding

how to round instead of memorizing the rules for rounding.

This is an example of a standard that may help develop student math literacy while not helping

students become mathematical proficient. This standard only calls for students to recognize when

with an emphasis on understanding and does not actually ask or require students to do any rounding.

How do you understand how to do something if you don’t remember how to do it?

The standards do not clearly require students to learn or use the standard algorithm for each

operation. Students can and should learn and use the standard algorithm for adding and subtracting

multi-digit numbers in second grade. The CCSS-M does not require this until the fourth grade, but it

does require it. This new draft for Oklahoma does not clearly require the use of the standard

algorithm. Here is the third grade standard that addresses addition and subtraction:

3.N.2.2 Add and subtract multi-digit numbers, using efficient and generalizable procedures and

strategies based on knowledge of place value, which may include standard algorithms.

“Which may include” does not require the use of standard algorithm. Other standards use wording

like “using efficient and generalizable procedures, including standard algorithms”. While different, it is

akin in ways to the CCSS-M’s frequent use of “strategies based on place value”. Most of those

strategies and procedures are not as efficient or generalizable as a standard algorithm. The standard

related to division calls for “including standard algorithms”. That is not a strong requirement and

actually puts it on equal ground with other procedures that will not serve students well as their math

education progresses. Students will need to be well grounded in the use of the standard algorithm for

division in order to successfully divide polynomials. Students will need to be able to do this in the

second year of algebra and beyond. So, by not requiring the use of the standard algorithm for

division, these standards will, as early as grade 4 and 5, effectively set limits on the math a student

will be successful with later in their education. They will not be prepared for performing polynomial

division or synthetic division as called for in the high school standard A2.A.1.4.

Oklahoma has the opportunity to develop world class standards. If this draft is any indication,

Oklahoma is way off the mark and not making good use of this opportunity. The fortunate part of this

draft is that it is a draft and can be improved upon. To be world class, it needs lots of improvement.

The big question is will those people involved in crafting these standards rise to the occasion. I hope

they will but this draft shows they are not so inclined.

J.R. Wilson has 30-plus years experience working in public education as an elementary classroom

teacher, middle and high school math teacher, state department of education curriculum consultant,

regional educational service agency staff development coordinator, and elementary principal. He has

conducted workshops and classes for teachers and administrators on technology in the classroom,

math and science education, and effective teaching practices. As a team member he has been involved

in writing science and math standards. He has served on the executive committee for Where’s the

Math? and participated in the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math’s reviews of the Common Core State

Standards for Mathematics. He is one of the founders of Truth in American Education.

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