Cathy Seeley on CCSS math standards and assessments

Cathy Seeley, a Math Solutions author and past president of NCTM, always does a wonderful job distilling the complex into the understandable.

Here are some notes I took from a talk she gave this morning at the 2013 Model Schools Conference about the Common Core math standards and Next Generation assessments.

  1. While the Common Core is bringing about big change on the ELA side, the new Common Core math standards are much more of a “next step” along a trajectory and iterative process in thinking about math instruction that started 20 years ago. “Now we have some teeth behind it,” she said.
  2. The Standards of Content still focus on the big three of math instruction: Understanding, Doing and Using math. But they also add a “21st Century Skill” layer by requiring students be able to “versitilize,” a term that Cathy used and was coined by Tom Friedman to describe the process of transferring skills you learn in school to jobs that don’t exist – with skills like problem solving, reasoning, research, communication. How do you integrate this into your math instruction?
  3. The Standards of Practice are really what the Next Generation assessments are going to focus on. The “problem solving” standard will really be at the heart of the assessments. When the Standards of Practice talk about “precision,” yes, it’s about being accurate, but it’s also about how you communicate about math and explain your reasoning.
  4. "The purpose of the assessment must be to improve learning.”
  5. The way the Next Gen assessments are being designed can be described as “evidence-centered design.” Meaning: What tasks do you create for the assessment that would give you evidence that a student has mastered a standard? This really is huge and new for the Next Gen assessments.

Thanks, Cathy, for helping me fine-tune my understanding of the Common Core math standards!