The same is true for education standards. Nintey plus percent of people will stop teaching or stop learning once they have met the standard. Its the nature of standards. They are limiting. You would think then that the standards writers would have shot for the highest end of skills knowing that schools will stop teaching once the students reach competence in that standard skill. Marketing hype aside, the fact that they only allow another fifteen measly percent of content to be taught on top of the standards is an indication that CCSSI developers agree with this phiosophy and believe they have shot high with Common Core standards.
Charles Ormsby, a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, gave his general review of the CCSSI math standards to The Deseret News. He says of standards in general, "We all know that whatever standard is set, some students will exceed the standard and some will fall short — many far short." This would seem to make the case for setting the standard as high as possible to bring the performance of all students up.
Professor Ormsby provides this explanation of why, therefore, the CCSSI math standards will ultimately shortchange k-12 students.
"It appears that Common Core standards set an expectation that students will achieve some reasonable level of competency in algebra through algebra II, but no expectation of competency in, or even a basic familiarity with, trigonometry. Whether a student has aspirations in the STEM disciplines or not, I think this is a major failing of the standard. Expectations in mathematics are being set well below the level needed to prepare students for post-secondary studies in a broad range of disciplines — not just the STEM fields.
Consider the range of likely outcomes if the standard was set, not at algebra II, but at basic competency in trigonometry... If we targeted trigonometry, then those that fall well short of the standard might at least absorb a modicum of geometry and basic algebra (a reasonable foundation for entering the trades; a path that should be more respected).
Those that fall just short of the standard will have mastered algebra II — a good foundation for accounting, health care workers, management sciences, liberal arts, etc. These students could conceivably pursue a STEM career after some remediation (e.g., taking trigonometry at a community college).
Students that hit the standard (mastery of trigonometry) would be ready to tackle calculus without remediation and therefore would be prepared to pursue either a STEM major or a serious career in, for instance, finance or economics.
A student that exceeded the standard would leave high school with a solid algebra/trigonometry foundation plus some (possibly a substantial) degree of understanding of calculus and could enter college with advanced placement credit.
This is the distribution of outcomes we should seek"Here, here Professor Ormsby!
Schools can, and some will, choose to teach beyond the standards of CC. Those schools will be the exception and will only continue with the practice so long as there are conscientious passionate people pushing for it, because the main system will only require that they achieve student competency through Algebra II. Most schools will stop there. Such is the nature of standards.
A more ominous warning comes at the end of Professor Ormsby's piece about the impact that will have on college math programs.
"The sad fact is that because students are not college-ready, colleges are dumbing down their curriculums to be student-ready. The downward spiral of expectations makes the "college ready" standard a moving/descending target.
I'll close by noting that this view from the trenches is from a trench in Massachusetts: one of the highest ranked states in the country for high school mathematics achievement. What does that say about the state of affairs in the other 49 states?"DESE has questioned by push back against CC and stated exasperatedly "They're just standards," as if that makes them innocuous. More recently, in a piece sent to to MO Superintendents they attempt to dismiss CC critics by saying, "So now others, as predicted by NSPRA, are attempting to define what CCSS is and these critics are turning it into a messy and misinformed political football being tossed at local school district leaders."
I don't see a lot of politics in Professor Ormsby's assessment of the standards. Seems pretty logical and well informed to me.