The quality of K-12 education in the United States has been a subject of concern since 1983. Mathematics test scores, both for national and international standardized tests show the United States students are far below what is expected for a nation that spends more money per student than most other world nations.
The effort to correct the problem by introducing the Common Core is facing resistance from parents and educators who are worried because students and teachers are not ready for the rigorous curriculum. It is unclear when they will be ready, but it is critical for the opponents of the Common Core to read the United States key findings for the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results.
The most important conclusion is, “Students in the United States have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands, such as taking real-world situations, translating them into mathematical terms, and interpreting mathematical aspects in real-world problems. An alignment study between the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and PISA suggests that a successful implementation of the Common Core Standards would yield significant performance gains also in PISA.”
Although almost all parents and teacher know many of the United States students are poor in mathematics, they seem to want to continue the status quo. Unfortunately continuing the status is not in the best interest of the students or the United States. The situation is particularly disturbing for low income, African American and Hispanic students who will become the workforce majority in the near future. The United States is already lagging far behind the developed world.
As long as our priority is to maintain students’ self-esteem than true mathematics learning, the United States will continue to fall behind every year. The opportunity to improve the ability of the United States students to perform mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands must not be wasted.