Florida's K12 Standards (2nd Draft) Listening Tour: Jefferson High School 10/17/2019
First, I want to thank Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Bauerlein for working on the draft to improve our ELA standards, as well as Dr. Effrem and Keith Flaugh for their work advocating for better standards in Florida. I would also like to recognize the new reading list that was published; it is excellent.
I would like to speak about Florida's proposed math standards. If our goal is to have math standards that will give our students the foundation to successfully pursue a career in science, mathematics, engineering or other related careers in data science then we must benchmark our standards to those that are highly respected like California's 1997 math standards. I will add that the underpinnings of data science involve quite a bit of applied mathematics. But back to standards, California's 1997 standards, according to an article published by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, were "written largely by the faculty of the Mathematics Department at Stanford University..."
We not only look toward giving our own children the best, we also must consider the education we are providing for our citizenry as a whole, those who surround us and those we lean on to make contributions to our society and to our country.
Taking a quick look over the proposed K-5 math standards I have concerns with multiplication and division math standards proposed for 4th and 5th grade (specifically section MA.4.NSO.2 and 5.NSO.2). I noticed we are proposing our students become proficient in performing these specific math standards an entire year later than in California's 1997 standards, which presented almost identical standards in 3rd and 4th grade, not 4th and 5th.
But more importantly, the current draft has attached to the end of many math standards "using a variety of strategies". This language has resulted in students having to practice so many different strategies on multi-digit multiplication and/or division problems that the students are not becoming proficient in any one method, let alone the most efficient method: the standard algorithm. Students often become confused by all the strategies and are left with no single strategy to cling to that enables them to solve these problems efficiently and with proficiency. What I have seen is the child struggles to keep up the following year.
Before moving forward with these standards, we need to take a closer look at what has been proposed in math and make changes that include a full Algebra I course in 8th grade.