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Common Core Creator Advises Parents to Step Away from Children’s Math Homework

Common Core Creator Advises Parents to Step Away from Children’s Math Homework

Jason Zimba, one of three lead writers for the Common Core math standards, offered parents some advice on how to help their children with the challenging and rigorous update to American math: don’t.

Common Core math not only evokes strong opinions from split groups of legislators and educators who support or oppose it, it also receives strong opinions from parents. Because the math encourages students to consider multiple ways to solve one problem to develop a total understanding, it’s much different than what most parents were taught.

As a result, parents often have a hard time helping their children when a challenging math problem arises, which in turn has created significant parent frustration that schools throughout the country have been forced to address.

According to Zimba, this confusion with the curriculum should be best addressed by the school and the well-trained teachers. The teacher, Zimba says, should be the parent’s main resource for helping their child excel.

“The math instruction on the part of parents should be low. The teacher is there to explain the curriculum,” Zimba told the Hechinger Report.

“When parents are frustrated, it’s important that educators listen to them, but they can’t listen unless the parents talk to them,” said Zimba, adding, “Venting is one thing but if you really want to solve the problem the way to do that is to start with the child’s teacher.”

But while Zimba encourages parents to always refer back to their child’s teacher, the question still lingers as to whether teachers are receiving enough of the training they need when it comes to Common Core, particularly math.

The Hechinger Report reported in October 2014 that professional development, with exceptions and innovators aside, is weak for Common Core training. 

"While 90 percent of teachers participated in short-term training, just 22 percent observed classrooms in other schools, according to a 2009 study published by Learning Forward (formerly the National Staff Development Council), an international organization focused on increasing effective teacher training. Furthermore, the same study found that fewer than half of teachers who participated in training considered it useful,” the Hechinger Report said in its article “Will Weak Teacher Training Ruin the Common Core?” 

On that same note, in August 2014 Education Week reported that a survey of a diverse group of 457 teachers revealed that most teachers say they are not well-prepared for teaching the Common Core, with most criticizing the few existing professional development opportunities as not helpful.

In the survey From Adoption to Practice: Teacher Preparation on the Common Core, when responding teachers were asked if they wanted more training on the Common Core, an overwhelming eight in ten respondents said they wanted more training on the Common Core despite 87 percent saying they had received exposure to some kind of training in the past.

Zimba told the Hechinger Report this month he thinks schools should do a better job "at educating parents on the standards and how to best guide students through them,” but made no mention on schools doing a better job to educate teachers.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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