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

















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