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Another Common Core-aligned math problem is going viral. This time a 3rd grade math problem was marked down despite the student finding the correct answer. The question asked the student to find the result of 5 multiplied by 3 using the “repeated addition strategy.” The student wrote “5+5+5” and correctly found the answer to be 15. Apparently, this strategy didn’t fit with the Common Core-established method for teaching multiplication, so the teacher punished the student for getting the right answer. The second question 4 multiplied times 6 also has the right answer, but is marked down with the exact same reasoning.
NBC Chicago reported, “The new math methods are in response to the Common Core States Standards Initiative launched in 2009. It focuses on more critical thinking and less on memorization.”
This reporting is inaccurate. First, these math methods have been around for over two decades under names such as New Math, Everyday Math, and Chicago Math. Second, Common Core was created before 2009, as its own supporters claim. Third, the critical thinking talking point is an excuse to prevent accountability of teaching methods and results. This talking point also defies logic because, as this math problem shows, many Common Core teachers only want one method taught for calculating the correct answer, regardless of the critical thinking utilized by the student. When a student uses his or her own strategy to come to the right answer, isn’t that an example of the kind of “critical thinking” Common Core is supposed to be promoting?
In contrast to how this math problem was correct yet marked incorrect, many of you will remember Grayslake District 46 Schools Curriculum Director Amanda August stating to parents, “But even under the new Common Core, even if [students] said, ‘3×4 was 11,’ if they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer, really in words and oral explanations, and they showed it in a picture but they just got the final answer wrong, we’re more focused on the how and the why.”
One other question no one seems to be asking about this problem is the following: Why are teachers under Common Core only doing math problems such as “5×3” in a 3rd grade class? Multiplication should have already been started, at a minimum, in 2nd grade, with the concept being introduced at the end of the 1st grade
One thing everyone needs to know about Common Core-aligned math: It’s a system where a student’s wrong answer can be “right” and a right answer can be “wrong.”