Despite the fact that they have not experienced difficulty before, some students and teachers struggle with new math standards.
When she noticed that her daughter was failing third grade math in the first six weeks of class, Alison Howell was shocked.
“I really was thinking, well, this isn’t right. If a child who isn’t having a behavioral problem, and who is listening, and we know is doing her best and successful in other subject areas, she shouldn’t be failing,” said Howell, whose daughter attends school in the Nederland Independent School District in Southeast Texas.
It turns out that her daughter is not alone in her difficulty. A more rigorous math curriculum is now in place in Texas schools, introducing some concepts as much as two years earlier than they had been previously taught.
Previously, multiplication tables were taught in fourth grade; now they are taught in third grade. Fractions were taught in fourth grade, and now also are taught in third. In the fourth grade, students now learn to use a protractor to measure and draw an angle instead of waiting until sixth grade to learn these skills.
“There was a feeling that in order for students to be competitive and successful, we really needed to ratchet up the rigor of those standards and ensure we were holding students to at least the level of expectation in other states and other countries,” said Texas Education Agency associate commissioner Monica Martinez at the at a November State Board of Education hearing.