If we want Common Core math to work in Berkeley …

… we need to make sure teachers have time to learn how to teach the new standards, collaborate with colleagues, and evaluate meaningful data that informs their instruction.  The New York Times Magazine recently ran a cover story that is worth reading for parents who are concerned about the new “new math” being taught in the Berkeley schools, now that we have adopted the Common Core standards.  The article makes a compelling case that new math standards are set up for failure if “teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it.”

There’s a lot to like in the Common Core math standards.  They are designed, as the article explains, to enable students to make sense of the mathematical concepts they are learning, not just get answers to problems.  If students understand why they are doing what they’re doing, they are much more likely to be able to apply what they’ve learned to a new context, which is the way to demonstrate true mastery of any subject.

As we move forward with the Common Core, we need to have patience with the new standards, which hold great promise.  But it is also critical that we ensure our teachers get the resources they need to teach the new standards effectively.