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Understanding the debate behind California's new math framework

Original post made on Nov 22, 2021

In the push to help more students thrive in STEM, California is working to change the way its schools teach math. But the suggested new framework has sparked widespread criticism.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 22, 2021, 12:38 PM

Comments (4)

Posted by Raymond
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 22, 2021 at 8:34 pm

Raymond is a registered user.

The emphasis in the current proposal is to slow the more competent students: no child gets ahead. The likely purpose is to decrease performance of the better students so the gap between them and the weaker students does not continue to grow. Weaker students in general need to be convinced that concentrated application of their attention to schoolwork is their way forward.

Weakening the best students endangers the future as they become our leading lights in their generation.

"Inclusive" pronouns seem to exclude the identity of female performers, so that: Madison Smith became a tenured professor and they published in the best scientific journals. If Madison is a credit to the female sex, you might not know it. They, them, & their all contain the word he, so male dominance is emphasized by their overuse. And person ... .

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 23, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I am not familiar with the new mathematics framework, but I wanted to share a few comments to perhaps enable more people to understand the struggles of certain students, especially those who are not members of the 'dominant culture' that produces most math teaching materials used in schools (typically white and relatively upper class).

Math has three key components: concepts, procedures, and applications. I believe that well-intentioned teachers at lower levels often focus on procedures or tricks to help students get the right answer without actually understanding the concepts. Example: when multiplying fractions students are taught to multiply the top numbers, and multiply the bottom numbers, without taking much time to explain what an equation like 1/2 * 1/3 actually MEANS. Problems emerge in the higher grades when students need to build on concepts they don't actually understand.

But perhaps the most important goal of all mathematical instruction is the area of applications: recognizing when a certain math technique can be used to solve a real world problem, and then carrying out the proper procedures to obtain a correct answer. This skill is taught via the use "word problems." ESL students often have a more difficult time because they don't understand nuances in the ENGLISH used in the question. It is not really a Math issue, but the student gets dismissed as being bad at Math because they don't get the right answer.

Another challenge for students of certain cultures is understanding the context of word questions. For example, a question involving two trains moving at different speeds is more difficult to understand if you have never ridden on a train. It is not really a Math issue, but the student gets dismissed as being bad at Math.

Word problems in math teaching materials are often inherently easier for native English speakers from the dominant culture (that is NOT Black, Latino, low-income, etc). Fundamentally that is not fair, but how do we fix?

Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 29, 2021 at 9:48 am

Nora S. is a registered user.

For decades math instruction in the US has been focusing more and more on understanding the concepts rather than drill and memorization. Math skills have suffered over the same period. Correlation or causation?

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 14, 2022 at 1:47 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

MVWSD MATH improvement in 2008, White + 3% to 80% proficient, Hispanic +8% to 38% Why an Hispanic delta +8%., (improvement) you may ask?
(The Voice reporter comes to your rescue) (Casey Weiss)
"Those scores are up from the previous year, ...
Teachers worked with underrepresented students to improve math scores, and the district began requiring at least 60 minutes of math instruction in each class."

Students like my two sons who we did not let "advance" came off just fine in college - one studied higher Math Number Theory courses (he read Godel, Esher, Bach an Eternal Golden Braid*, in middle school) and the other only graduated with "academic distinction & honors" in Economics from that Farm up the road.

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