Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NCTM vs. CCSS

     Common Core State Standards and NCTM Standards have some common themes and some differences.  In analyzing both I found that all the standards required by Common Core can be found with in the NCTM standards.  However, there are a few standards found in the NCTM that are lacking in the CCSS. 
     I analyzed the fourth grade math curriculum for Common Core.  Within CCSS, each intermediate elementary grade is set up essentially the same.  Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base 10, Number and Operations in Fractions, Measurement and Data, and finally, Geometry.  These strands are the same for 3rd-5th grade, which is the span of matriculation that I followed.  Some of the oddities I found were mainly found within the Number and Operations in Fractions strand.  For CCSS 4th grade students will not be required to add or subtract numbers with unlike denominators.  However, they do have to multiply a fraction by a whole number.  This seems backwards to me considering that students are usually asked to master the addition concept prior to the multiplication.
     NCTM standards seemed to be more encompasing.  Number and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis and Probablity, Problem Solving, Reasoning and Proof, Communication, Connections, and Representations make up the ten categories for the NCTM. 
     What I found to be a little disheartening was that written within the language of the CCSS the concepts of the NCTM's standards on Communication, Connections, and Representations were embedded.  However, they are so embedded that they are easily over looked.  NCTM devotes an entire standard to "Communication" where as CCSS uses language like "express using fractional models" written within the standard.  At first glance a teacher may think that the CCSS are more streamlined and focus on fewer topics allowing the students to master concepts.  However, in reality they are missing some of the very standards that push students past the point of rote memorization and into deeper understanding.  NCTM's standardards that deal with expressing math concepts and how these ideas connect are separated from the other standards in order to draw attention to them.  In CCSS they are hidden and do not stand out as the ultimate end goal for any math teacher at any grade level.

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