This blog started life as a resource for people with questions about the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (called Tools for the Common Core). It has now morphed into a blog with all sorts of musings about the teaching of mathematics. You can still ask questions about the standards over in the forums.


20 thoughts on “About

  1. At the PARCC meeting in Orlando, you mentioned that the CCSS Appendix A (CC to secondary math course mapping) was not as high in quality (my words) as the CCSS. Are you familiar with any plans to “finalize” this mapping and/or can you give a “confidence level” or clarification to the mapping in the current Appendix A? I am expected to design an Algebra 1 course for fall 2011 and am trying to judge how closely to follow Appendix A while implementing CC.

    Thank you!

  2. It wasn’t so much a comment about quality as about how final the Appendix was. Whereas the standards are necessarily final for now, I think Appendix A should be viewed as a first attempt at arranging the high school standards into courses. Decisions of the assessment consortia could change some of the decisions in Appendix A, and I would encourage everybody to suggest ways of improving it.

  3. Bill,

    I heard you say at some meetings, the big thing about CCSS is COMMON standards. The state of Georgia is getting readybto start with the CCSS next fall, but for HS, they seem to be creating their own courses, which might reduce the COMMON aspect of the CCSS. Do you have any comment on this development?

  4. Tad, the standards in high school don’t dictate courses; the courses in appendix A are models that were developed to show how one might arrange the standards into courses, but they are not mandatory. That said, I agree it would be a good idea of states shared such models, either the ones from appendix A or other ones they developed.

  5. Even a sadder story is that some districts are trying to “personalize” the state-developed curriculum map within Georgia. Why do people feel the need to do this, and do they really have qualified people to do this? I am not so sure.

  6. Given the dependent curricular flow (i.e. algebra1-geometry-algebra2-trig/precalc) that many or most secondary math departments are currently constrained by, it is no wonder that h.s. districts are trying to jump the gun and get CC in place prior to being tested in 2014. As a math dept chair, I feel that I’m in a catch-22 situation. If I wait for the states to design the course & sequence properly, h.s. won’t see the student impact for another 5-10 years after that; yet we will be tested & evaluated much sooner. On the other hand, if a district can “guess” the state’s answer and put into place a near CC-aligned course curriculum, secondary math stands a chance to be ready for tests & evaluations by 2014-2015. ..assuming K-8 has theirs in place as well. Lacking timely decisions, I consider the whole CC transition as an opportunity for teacher development & training on the cheap.

  7. Hi Bill,

    I am working with the PTO at an Elementary school in St Louis as a parent, trying to understand the courses that would align to the new standards. We are not able to translate or map the standards into actual content that the parents can understand. Is there a resource where we could get the definitions of what the standards and sub standards relate to. I see the Math Appendix does this for High School, but we have a lot of parents that don’t understand the basic Math concepts, so a guide for arranging standards to course would be helpful. For example,I’ve been trying to work on the Third Grade to start. I am trying to define the following standard, and how parents can understand it:
    3.NBT.1. Use place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or 100.


    • Dear Keith, I’m not sure what detail you are looking for here, but two things come to mind. At an introductory level, the national PTA has published a guide to the standards, available here. At a more detailed level, the progressions documents available on this blog or at the IM&E website might be useful.

  8. Thanks Bill,
    I have already read thru the progression documents and those are helpful. I also just reviewed the PTA site and that too is helpful. I am looking to for a bit more detail on actual concepts and lessons that relate to the standards.

  9. Bill,

    Why is the term “decimal fraction” used in the fifth grade CCSS document? What does it really mean?

    These questions have surfaced twice in my school district recently. I want to check with you to make sure that I sm thoroughly answering the questions.

    Thank you!


  10. In the Grades 4 and 5 decimals are viewed as a notation for a particular type of fraction, namely fractions with denominator 10, 100, etc. So 0.37 is a decimal, and it’s also a fraction, 37/100. Mostly the document just calls this a decimal, but occasionally the term “decimal fraction” is used to emphasize that that’s all a (finite) decimal is. The point is to avoid the common misconception that decimals are some new sort of number, that you are moving into a different world when you start working with them.

  11. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to comment on the sample assessment questions that have been released by the NY dept of education. I’m very concerned about the level of complexity in the 7th grade math questions. I fear that they have interpreted the standards in the most sophisticated way possible which does not seem to me to follow with the information provided in the progression documents. I’m especially concerned with the interpretation of rational numbers to mean only fractional coefficients in 7.EE.1 and 7.EE.3 “convert between forms” to mean “convert measurement units between forms”. I have to be honest, I’ve been to many meetings about the common core math standards and witnessed many heated discussions about what each standard means. I’m VERY concerned about the number of ways to interpret each standard. I understand that standards are not curriculum, but I’m afraid they are being used that way. At this point my head is spinning and I don’t know what I’m suposed to teach or where to go to get clarification.

    The documents are open for public comment now.

  12. I am having trouble posting a reply in the Forum. I put in my name, email address, and then the comment, but when I click submit it keeps giving me an error that says “Error: Are you sure you want to do that?” Yes, I am sure!!!!! Can you help me? Am I doing anything wrong or is there a glitch with your system right now? Thank you!

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