In some states, proposed new standards encourage a deeper understanding of math, rather than stressing more concepts.
According to Matt Larson, math curriculum specialist for Lincoln Public schools in Nebraska, critics have claimed for decades that the national math curriculum is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Newly proposed standards promote a deeper understanding reducing the total number of skills taught from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Larson says that this would enable teachers to spend more time on each standard, and students could really understand the concepts, not just a superficial understanding for passing a test. The result, Larson says, is that students would be less likely to give up when they are presented with challenging math problems.
Larson is among the many Nebraska teachers who contributed to the proposed standards. He has been a math educator for over 25 years and has co written books and instructional materials. He has also worked to develop math standards in other states.
As he encourages board members to adopt the standards, he makes points about why the new standards are an improvement.
“Are they perfect? No. No set of standards will satisfy everyone. But they are a significant improvement over the current standards because they are more rigorous, focused and coherent,” Larson said.