Karen Lamoreaux on Math Standards

You may remember Karen Lamoreaux, she went viral a few months ago and brought tremendous attention to common core and the problems with the math standards.

You can watch her video here.


Well, I am honored to have her agree to be my first guest blogger.  She has put together a very helpful guide on the history of math reform and why the current common core math standards are not the way to go.

Common Core Math

May 15, 2014 at 8:13pm

Common Core Math

BY: Karen Lamoreaux, Arkansas Against Common Core, 2014

SUMMARY:  The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) calls for the use of 2 types of reform math: Constructivism and Transformational Geometry. These methods are based on abstract thinking, not critical thinking, and have failed both here in the US and abroad for over 25 years. Not only have they not increased math scores,they increase the achievement gap among minorities and are cognitively inappropriate for elementary age students. The time spent on constructivism in the math standards, pushes standard algorithm 1-2 years further ahead, placing our students at 2 year disadvantage internationally.


Is it standards or curriculum?


The language in the standards calls for controversial reform math, otherwise known as Constructivist math. Language that calls for students to explain, make an argument for, construct, draw diagrams or pictures, and consider math in an “abstract way” are Constructivist/reform math standards. They are presented as word problems that often do not line up with the reading level of the student. Common examples include TERC Investigations Math and Everyday Math. Also, instead of traditional Euclidean geometry the CCSSI calls for Transformational geometry, another type of reform math based on abstract thought. The following confirm that the Common Core State Standards Initiative Math standards call for constructivism:

·        Professor Jon Star and Harvard University

·        The National Council  of the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)

·        Dr. Jay P. Greene at the University of Arkansas

Professor Jon Star from Harvard studies this now along with Vanderbilt University and the National Science Foundation, which has been pushing reform math sine the 1990s.


“Critics of the reform textbooks and curricula support traditional textbooks such as Singapore math, which emphasizes direct instruction of basic mathematical concepts, and Saxon math, which emphasizes perpetual drill. Examples of reform curricula introduced in response to the 1989 NCTM standards and the reasons for initial criticism:

·        Investigations in Numbers, Data, and Space (including TERC Investigations)

·        Connected Mathematics, criticized for not explicitly teaching children standard algorithms, formulas or solved examples

·        Everyday Math, criticized for putting emphasis on non-traditional arithmetic methods.” (Wiki Math Wars)


Where did Constructivist Math Come From?


The new reform math standards are compliments of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and they were introduced in 1989.  The NCTM are reformers and have tried this at least twice before, revising them in 2000 and again in 2006 and it failed miserably. The GW Bush Admin even established a National Math Advisory Panel, who decided to shut down the math debate. The standards created by the NCTM in 1989 were used by many schools as part of assessment under No Child Left Behind. The math scores did not change and have not improved despite their attempts to mainstream these standards. Further, several research studies prove these methods ineffective internationally.


This time, the NCTM piggy-backed it on to the Common Core Standards Initiative, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to make it more sustainable.


Once again, they are experimenting with our kids.



2 Years Behind the Competition


According to the American Principles Project the CCSSI lacks the following:


•     No prime factorization, least common denominators or greatest common factors;conversions among fractions, decimals, and percent.

•     D-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers

1-2 Grades Behind International Peers:

•     does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4

•     does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations our international competitors.

•     does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until gr. 6

•     Starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.

•     Fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles ina triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass.


This echoes the concerns of Dr. James Milgram,professor emeritus from Stanford University and former NASA Advisory Mathematician. He was on the CCSSI validation committee and refused to sign off on the standards saying: “…the reason that I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by the 7th grade, and…only require a partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry… Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra 2, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.”


Cognitive Conflict


The reason for the failure of these methods in the past has much to do with being in conflict with normal cognitive development. Clinical Psychologists state that abstract processing does notwork for elementary age children because they are in the concrete phase of their development. As a result, working within constructivist, or abstract,standards is ineffective and results in increased anxiety and behavioral interruptions.


In 2010, the Alliance for Childhood issued a statement, signed by 500 early childhood professionals declaring that the standards, ” conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades.”


Dr.Carla Horowitz of the Yale Child Study Center states, “The Core Standards will cause suffering, not learning, for many, many young children.”


Dr.Gary Thompson is an African American Doctor of Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)currently serving as Director of Clinical Training & Community Advocacy ata private child psychology clinic in South Jordan, Utah. He completed undergraduate education at both the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and is a father of 4 public school children. He refers to the Constructivism in the standards as “Cognitive child abuse.”



For 25 years, reformers have tried to push these methods into the mainstream public school system and failed. Now, states are stuck using these failed methods with a set a standards that cannot be changed due a DC-owned copyright. As a result, all students will be 2 years behind international peers with many elementary students suffering from anxiety, depression and behavioral problems. Somehow, without reform math, we still managed to be a force in global trade, a leader in the top 5 internationally for innovation, entrepreneurship and space exploration. If we keep these standards, we can compete as factory workers in a 21st century globalist managed economy, or we can get back to true local education with our own set of standards and remain in the top 5 for innovation and entrepreneurship. Stop the Common Core.







Educational Psychologist. Volume 41Issue 2, 2006. WhyMinimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failureof Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-BasedTeaching. PaulA. KirschnerJohnSweller & RichardE. Clark. pp 75-86.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15326985ep4102_1#.UzIwIouPLIU

















Field Testing…. sigh

One of the things that the New York State Education Department has tried very hard to keep under wraps is the field testing that goes on in the 3rd through 8th grades.

Field tests came about in the last few years because Pearson, the corporation that designs the Common Core aligned assessments for New York State, had a few problems when designing tests for the new standards.  They needed questions to test the material covered in the new standards.

The traditional way to introduce new questions was to embed them into current exams, but not score them.  Common Core standards created a demand for far more questions than they can test on a standard assessment.

The solution to this problem was to develop field tests and work with NYSED to give these field tests to New York State students during school.

Yes, that’s right, after months of test prep and as much as 18 hours dedicated to testing, New York State endorsed and aided Pearson, a for-profit company, to administer practice tests to help Pearson develop its work product at taxpayer expense, and with out parental permission.

Children are working to design the tests Pearson will be selling to New York during the school day.

Test refusal can be a difficult decision, but if we are going to get the government and the businesses driving education reform to understand that this is not acceptable, then the parents and students must refuse to take the field tests.

John King,Commissioner, NYSED, and his ilk, will make case that the field tests are needed to that NYSED can set benchmarks and cut scores.  Please remember last year’s test, and that 70% failure rate that was determined by setting the benchmarks and cut scores to produce a 70% failure rate.

Pearson and NYSED already anticipate at 10% refusal rate and are giving the tests to over 350,000 students in over 3000 districts.

Stop this cold!

Stand up for children’s education!

Refuse the field tests!

And, just to put things in perspective, there are companies that arrange focus groups made up of children and there is compensation for their work,

Not free, not condoned by the government.





One Mom’s Journey through Education Reform

Just about a year ago, I happened to attend a Board of Education meeting.  I had taken my son and a friend who were working on scout merit badge requirements and had not been very involved in school issues.  Our then superintendent stood up to talk about the recent NYS Assessments, and how the scores were poor (only 30% scored proficient) and that the NYSED knew that this would be the case.   At the time, I remember thinking to myself, “It sounds like someone in the education department was trying to help out his brother-in-law’s software company by giving them a contract to write crappy tests.”   The meeting continued, and it was prior to the budget vote, so there was the usual discussion about unfunded mandates.   I naively asked “What unfunded mandates should we be asking to be repealed?”   I look back on that now, and boy, did I sound like an uninformed un-involved  parent.  (I am being nice to myself, I rated this blog “G”).

By fall, my son is a junior, so we are well past the assessments stage and the moms that I am most friendly with are as well.   I might have remained oblivious to the changes that were going on all in education.  Then something wonderful happened and if you have been involved in any way in education reform and the stop common core movement, you have probably already guessed.  Arne Duncan said the backlash against Common Core was “white suburban moms are discovering that their children are not as brilliant as they thought”.

There is something very wrong when a policy maker, and one who yields as much power as Arne Duncan does, says something so, well, dunderheaded, and keeps his job.   (Insert any word you would like for dunderheaded, I am keeping my “G” rating.

So, I started doing some research.  I attended a Common Core meeting sponsored by State Senator Greg Ball.  I joined a Facebook group, then two, then three.  At first, I could not believe some of the things that I was reading.  Now, I think many of my friends and acquaintances think I sit in my kitchen wearing a tin hat.     I am not a professional educator, I do not make money from the school systems or the government.  I am a mother, wife, employee, volunteer.  I have my opinions, and I have the research that I have found to form my opinion.  My plan is to take those of you who are interested through some of my experiences.  My hope is to be a place for parents new to the realization of what education reform has become in this country.

Next time I will talk about the Fordham Institute.  I hope you join me.