Dr. Milgram stated that the highest level of math a student achieves in high school is a great predictor of their chances of obtaining a 4 year college degree. He went on to say that if a student attends college within 2 years of graduating high school, these are the percentages of their chance of obtaining a 4 year degree based on the highest math they achieved in high school.
Highest Level of Math in High School % Chance of Obtaining a 4 year degree
Algebra 1 7%
Algebra 2 39%
Now, he went on to say that those numbers may be several years old, but they are still very close. He said that the Algebra 2 % had gone down to approximately 32-33%. Dr. Milgram feels strongly that Algebra 2 as the hhighest math in high school is a weak objective and not comparable or competitive with international mathematics standards.
Dr. Milgram stated that the Race to the Top Iniative was sold to the federal government as a pathway into STEM education. If you are unfamiliar with STEM, you can click on this link and read about it, http://www.stemedcoalition.org/. STEM education is focused primarily on math, science/technology. The STEM Coalition has stated that our country’s prosperity is heavily associated with our students and their STEM education or lack there of. Dr. Milgram stated that if you were a STEM student (Math and Sciences), have plans of going into a related field of work and the first mathematics course you took in college was Pre-Calculus, you would have a 2% chance of obtaining a 4 year degree in the fields of Math, Science or Technology. This is obviously not the international standards that have been sold to us.
Dr. Milgram stated that the socio economic status of an area and/or school and its students, plays a huge role in determining how far a student is able to go in the way of education. He stated that more affluent areas or the highest socio economic quantile of schools will offer higher level mathematics in high school. He said there is a 72% chance of a high socio economic area school offering higher level math. In the lowest socio economic area schools, there is a 43% chance of the school offering higher level math. In Common Core State Standards, no high school has tio offer more than Algebra 2. With that being said, the current 43% would go down significantly, and it is likely that teachers who teach these subjects would go away, quit or have no jobs available.
Dr. Milgram spoke about the original draft of the math standards. He stated that the original draft only included up to Algebra 1. He said that it was very difficult (like pulling teeth) to get Algebra 2 added to the standards and in no way would they add anything past Algebra 2. He said that political concerns drove the overall structure of the standards.
Dr. Milgram stated that students need to get further in mathematics these days more so than ever before, BUT the best way to do that is for students to GET THE BASICS DOWN!!!! He went on to express that he felt word problems were unnecessary in the early primary grades. Mathematics is unique in that there are no short cuts and word problems too early are not necessary or helpful. Math is foundational so you cannot skip items. You have to build upon and add onto math, meaning you teach a concept, make sure that students understand the concepts and operations before moving onto the next concept. You then add onto the concepts as you go. (Side Note: This is exactly the same thing that one of the authors of the MS Frameworks and Benchmarks stated. He found CCSS flawed in that it does not teach concepts and then build upon them. The CCSS are not organized or sequenced in a way thatmakes sence or gives students a strong foundation and understanding as they move forward.)
As Math pertains to kids in primary grades – there is a sequence of things that they have to learn…..numbers are objects that one can add and multiply. High achieving countries in primary years focus on the distributive properties, addition, multiplication, abstraction, generalized concepts of numbers and then ratios and rates. The following 4 items are crucial for students to have a solid and strong foundation in as a means to achieving success in mathematics.
1. Fluency with basic operations
2. Comfort with the subverse operations
3. Students to be comfortable with a common algorithm.
4. Knowledge of distributive and communitive laws
In high achieving foreign countries, Math educators are required to have the same background, course work as PhDs. Dr. Milgram made a point to state, more than once, that a person in our country could obtain a PhD in Mathematics without ever having taken a Math course! Yes, you heard that right!! The mathematicians in high achieving countries are the ones that develop their country’s curriculum. Final decision of the content of the curriculum is made by the mathematician. In this country that in no way happens!! Typically, no mathematicians are included but rather committees and interested parties make the final decisions. This held true for the Common Core State Standards as well. The international standard for mathematics is Algebra 1 in 7th grade. YES, you are reading that correctly.
For an example of the politics, THEY REFUSED to add more than Algebra 2 to the Common Core State Standards. Who is they………David Coleman, Mark Tucker, Linda Darling Hammond and Achieve did NOT want Algebra 2 much less anything more advanced than that. included in the standards. Those 4 had much more clout than did the only mathematician, Dr. Milgram. Now why would those 4 have more to say on mathematics than the only expert on the committee? How does that make our standards internationally aligned or competitive?
Dr. Milgram gave his opinion of the standards in this way….
K-5 CC Standards – Better than Average and the most like international standards of all other standards included in Common Core.
Middle School CC Standards – He gave them a rating of Average
High School CC Standards – Below Average….He felt that the problems with CCSS for Math become serious when students reach high school. He said that students may have to be tutored or moved to a private school. Schools are going to follow the standards until the standards go away according to Dr. Milgram.
Schools still have the ability to teach advanced courses, BUT The tests kids will be taking for CCSS are the CCSS aligned tests, so how can you accelerate the courses when there is no way to test the advanced? Teachers pay is dependent upon test scores, so they will not be able to focus on other advanced subjects that are not even tested and have no barring on their evaluations or pay.
When asked….Why specifically is the workload so heavy for K-5, Dr. Milgram answered with this, the standards were on a tight deadline. He said the typical time frame for any state when rewriting standards is approximately 2 years. Common Core State Standards were completed in 9-10 months. Also noteworthy, the main authors of Common Core had never written a math curriculum before. (Let me interject this here for those that keep stating the standards are different than curriculum and they have nothing to do with each other, Dr. Milgram referred to the standards in this way. HE IS THE EXPERT! People that state that they are just standards do not have a clear understanding of Common Core.) Dr. Milgram stated the standards have no sequencing, are disorganized, were written too hurriedly and by individuals that are not curriculum writers.
Here are a few questions that were asked and how Dr. Milgram responded to those questions.
What happens when kids cannot work fractions bc they have not had the basics?
Teachers will find it way too difficult to change their own teaching methods to the CCSS for it to work. They have not been taught enough mathematics to fully and properly implement certain standards. The CCSS way of teaching fractions is good, but the students’ outcome will likely be the same bc of the teachers and their teaching methods.
Can you explain how or why CCSS pushes Algebra 1 to 9th grade?
International expectation is for Algebra to be taught in 7th grade. Common for it to be 9th grade throughout the US.
Why do some feel that CCSS Math is too hard and others too easy?
Students do not understand mathematics intuitively. Cannot expect students to learn or do it themselves. Typically, the teachers are the ones responsible for the students who think it is too hard. The lower grade math in CCSS is close to international levels but still lower than international standards. The real problem is the teacher not being able to teach it correctly or in a way that the students understand.
Recommendations for gifted Math children:
Parents who have gifted children in Math – EPGY, EPGY online high school are very successful for highly gifted kids. Along these lines, parents need to search out for other additional programs.
Finally, Dr. Milgram stated that CCSS is not trying to tell people exactly what approach to use so the schools are able to pick up their own methodology, BUT this leads to one big problem though, the lack of understanding of exactly what the standards are saying, teachers not understanding mathematics, poorly written curricula and poor implementation.
A Few Key Points:
1. Common Core was written too hurriedly, disorganized, was not read through, no correct sequencing and authored by people that have never written curriculum before. (Does this sound familiar? Think about who authored the DCS Math and ELA curriculum.)
2. The politics of interested parties played a HUGE role in the authoring of and developing of Common Core.
3. The standards are NOT internationally aligned or comparable to international standards.
4. CCSS are very minimal for a 4 year college degree. As admitted by more than one of the original authors and participants, the standards are the minimal knowledge needed for entry into a trade school or community college.
5. Too many states are attempting to author their own curricula, yet they do not have the training to do so.
6. Teachers are not trained mathematicians and do not have the foundation needed to implement many of the CCSS or understand what they truly mean. They don’t have the backgrounds in Math to know how to teach children in a way that builds the foundation of Math students need for future success.
7. Teachers need more training and professional development before being expected to implement these new standards.
8. We need higher level Math offered in high school.
9. As it is now, Common Core State Standards will not be any more beneficial to our kids than anything previously used.
10. Parents will have to take charge and find ways to supplement their children’s education if they remain in public schools through high school.
Here is the link to the video on Youtube of the conference call with Dr. Milgram. It last approximately an hour and a half. Well worth the listen!