|2 + 2 = 4 is not a good enough answer in Common Core. Students will not get full credit unless they analyze, evaluate and create.|
Diane Ravitch featured an article comparing a traditional math problem to a common core math problem. She writes:
The New York State United Teachers urged the state education department to slow down the rush to testing the Common Core because neither students nor teachers are ready.NYSUT says: Don't test what hasn't been taught.Sounds sensible.But this is the strange thing.Open the link. Look at the old math problem. Look at the Common Core problem.What do you think?I understand the old version. The new one--the Common Core example--doesn't make sense.Is that just me?
She's right. The new Common Core example doesn't make sense. Click on Common Core: Moving too fast on testing from nysyt.org and see it for yourself. The readers' comments are some of the best I've seen regarding the insanity of common core problems. Here are a couple:
Looked at it yesterday and just shook my head. Neither one of my reading disabled granddaughters would be able to figure out what is being asked, let alone determine all the processes that might have to be used. Why do we insist on such mean-spiritedness directed at our children?? Good tests should not be intentionally designed to confuse children. Nothing fair about this but what do we expect when one of last years’ assessment dealt with purple pineapples?!?!?!
Is it a question that could be used to uncover children’s understanding of fractions, or is this an assessment of students’ ability to sit still, read carefully, and write clearly? The question itself is not problematic if it were to be used in a classroom setting in which explanation and justification were normative. Because there is likely to be a wide range of answers and reasons for those answers, this question might be useful for engaging students in rich classroom discourse. A teacher leading that discussion would be able to not only figure out who was having difficulty interpreting the text, but also figure out the children’s mathematical understanding based on the classroom discourse. Hence, it might be a really good assessment item that would provide the teacher with a great deal of information if used in a classroom setting by a qualified teacher.
The problem is that questions such as this one will be used on a high-stakes test. In that setting, an incorrect answer may not have anything to do with the child’s mathematical understanding. Let’s suppose that the entire test consisted of questions such as this one. This item would not be useful in assessing the students’ MATHEMATICAL understanding about fractions, because the students’ answers to the task depends on the students’ ability to interpret text and to write a written explanation as well as the mathematics. Thus, the item might not be assessing mathematics. While the item fails on validity, that is still not the problem. The problem is that those invalid scores will then be used to evaluate our students, their teachers, and our schools.
In Missouri, you can click here from dese.mo.gov and access a link from The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to see examples of math problems for 4th graders in common core language. You can see for yourself how teachers now need to grade these problems. 4th grade Math problems don't solely have a right or wrong answer. The teacher grades on understanding, the manner in which the problem was solved, how the student communicates the reasoning and the data provided by the 4th grade student:
The Smarter Balanced summative assessments in mathematics are designed to measure the full range of student abilities in the Common Core State Standards or Core Academic Standards (CAS). Evidence will be gathered in support of four major claims: (1) Concepts and Procedures, (2) Problem Solving, (3) Communicating Reasoning, and (4) Modeling and Data Analysis.
Students will receive an overall mathematics composite score. For the enhanced assessment, students will receive a score for each of three major claim areas. (Math claims 2 and 4 are combined for the purposes of score reporting.)
Claim 1 — Students can explain and apply mathematical concepts and interpret and carry out mathematical procedures with precision and fluency.
Claim 2 — Students can solve a range of complex, well-posed problems in pure and applied mathematics, making productive use of knowledge and problem-solving strategies.
Claim 3 — Students can clearly and precisely construct viable arguments to support their own reasoning and to critique the reasoning of others.
Claim 4 — Students can analyze complex, real-world scenarios and can construct and use mathematical models to interpret and solve problems.
Distracter: the incorrect response options to an SR item.
Distracter Analysis: the item writer‘s analysis of the options or rationale for inclusion of specific options.
Item: the entire item, including the stimulus, question/prompt, answer/options, scoring
criteria, and metadata.
Key: the correct response(s) to an item.
Options: the responses to a selected-response (SR) item from which the student selects one or more answers.
Scoring Rubric: the descriptions for each score point for an item/task that scores more than one point for a correct response.
Stem: the statement of the question or prompt to which the student responds.
Stimulus: the text, source (e.g., video clip), and/or graphic about which the item is written. The stimulus provides the context of the item/task to which the student must respond.
Task: similar to an item, yet typically more involved and usually associated with constructedresponse, extended-response, and performance tasks.
Top-Score Response: one example of a complete and correct response to an item/task.
Who wants to wager these type of math problems requiring high language skills and strong writing abilities will turn away children toward math and other STEM subjects while they are still mastering their math facts? Common Core Math has little to do with math and mastery of the mathematical process.