When it comes to getting help with homework, some students are finding that the common core math curriculum challenges parents.
More than 28,000 Omaha public school students in kindergarten through sixth grade are using a new math program, Go Math!, aligned to the controversial Common Core State Standards, even though Nebraska is one of five states that have not adopted those standards.
Iowa is already a Common Core state, and more schools in the Omaha metro area are considering Common Core-aligned products as outdated math books come up for review.
Proponents hail the standards as the best yet to prepare kids for success in college or a career.
Advocates say Common Core math standards are specific, clear and explore essential concepts and skills in greater depth, arming kids to reason abstractly and unravel complex problems.
OPS officials say students this year are more engaged, enjoy math and understand concepts that in past years they had trouble picking up. Officials are confident Go Math! will ultimately raise achievement, calling it the district’s most rigorous instruction program ever.
But some teachers and parents have raised concerns that echo those in other states that adopted Common Core math: that it makes math more complicated than it needs to be, and that it introduces challenging concepts when kids are too young to comprehend them.
As a result, critics say, struggling students, and those in special education, may find math tedious and frustrating and some could become discouraged.
More on the Core
» The Common Core is based on a set of educational benchmarks developed by Achieve, a nonprofit group founded in 1996 by governors and business leaders.
» Achieve partnered with the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and consultants to write the standards, which were released in June 2010.
» President Obama advocated for the standards, and 45 states, some enticed by grants, adopted them to guide math and language arts instruction.
» With nearly all states embracing Common Core, most new math programs on the market are aligned to the standards.
OPS elementary students have been spending their one-hour daily math periods immersed in Go Math!
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the program should foster a deeper understanding of math concepts while de-emphasizing drilling and rote memorization, said ReNae Kehrberg, an assistant superintendent at OPS.
Go Math! emphasizes building math vocabulary at a young age, modeling mathematical processes in multiple ways and unraveling complex story problems that reflect real-world situations.
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