2WTK Breaks Down Common Core

A picture making the rounds on Facebook caught 2 Wants to Know's attention. It's about the new school curriculum called common core. The picture got people talking, so we wanted to take a closer look.

It shows two methods to solving the same problem: 32-12.

The traditional method is simple. That's the way people have been taught for years. But that's not how kids are learning now. Mom and dads know this. Many parents have been frustrated trying to help with homework. The new equation looks a bit more confusing. There are several more numbers, and even more math! But it's like that on purpose. It's called subtraction by counting up and it's part of the common core curriculum. Lisa Carnall, Associate Professor of Math at High Point University explained the method behind the math. "In subtraction by counting up, it's similar to the way we make change. If the bill was $2.65 and you are given a $5 bill, you would give a dime to get to $2.75, a quarter to get to $3 and then two more dollars to get to $5. So the change that was given, or the difference, is $2.35 cents. Same idea here. You start with the smaller quantity, and you add to it quantities that will take you to anchor numbers, so you can get numbers that end in zero or five."

So Frank Mickens demonstrated. In the 32-12 equation, you start with 12 and add to get larger quantities until you get to 32. 12 plus three is 15.15 plus 5 equals 20. 20 plus 10 to get 30, and then 30 plus two to get to 32.Then you add those other middle quantities, the numbers you added, to get the answer: 20. Carnall said this method can actually help kids learn. "It helps them with their computation fluency, it helps them have flexible strategies, and in some cases these methods are actually more efficient than the traditional method. For example, if I needed to do 1000-262, traditional method there is going to be a lot of crossing out of zeroes, a lot of borrowing where mistakes can be made. But with counting up you would say 'okay, 262, it's going to take me 38 to get to 300, and then it's going to take me 700 to get to 1000, so the answer is 738.'"

Common core was adopted in North Carolina in 2010 and implemented in the 2012-13 school year. But because of the confusion, it has parents, teachers, and lawmakers nationwide riled up and fighting back.

Tom Reeder, Superintendent of Wyoming Public Schools is in favor of common core. He said, "Common Core is just a set of standards that are intended to be written to global standards, instead of state standards […] The old way didn't work, otherwise, we'd be doing tremendous, in our math and reading and it's just not a good method if we're going to be globally competitive." Reeder believes the Common Core standards are more rigorous, and a key to the future.

Melanie Kurdy's disagrees. As a math tutor, Kurdy has seen the changes. She said, "I worry, the very children who are gifted in math and be our future engineers, mathematicians, are going to be the ones who are most frustrated and they'll give up."

Many parents say they no longer have input in their child's education and can't even help them with homework.

The common core debate might be coming to an end here in North Carolina. Our legislators have already moved to repeal common core. And on Tuesday, the House voted to put their version into a Senate version of the bill for further debate. Both sides agree on getting rid of common core. The main disagreement is over how to replace it. Both versions of the bill create a commission to develop new standards, but legislators disagree on whether or not the commission can keep some of the common core standards in whatever comes next. Lawmakers will have to compromise, but they should have a bill on the Governor's desk this year. We'll keep you posted on the bill's progress.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment