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Meaningful application of math concepts means better long-term learning

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Madeline Ahearn, school administrator in Eugene, Oregon, wrote recently that the Common Core standards offer students a better chance at success in math.

The Common Core math standards adopted by most school districts in New Hampshire offer an emphasis on meaningful application of math concepts to problems. Students don’t just memorize formulas, they learn to decide how and when a formula should be applied to solve practical problems. This approach makes math more accessible to more students, and results in a more in-depth understanding of the material.

The Common Core standards put fewer topics at each grade level so there is more time for students to develop a depth of understanding and to gain the ability to apply it[.]

This focusing of math topics is the approach that countries with high-performing education systems have taken for years. Additionally, the standards are put together coherently, so they reinforce one another as a student moves from one grade to the next.

To promote student engagement and long-term learning, the standards call for more integrated learning and emphasize meaningful application as much as knowing mathematical procedures. A good high-school example would be asking students to prepare a report for the state Legislature on the prospect of raising the speed limit, based on calculations of braking distances, data about accidents from other states that have already done so, and estimates of gasoline usage.

Ahearn is not the only educator to praise the Common Core approach to teaching math. Here’s a Hechinger Report piece on how a conceptual approach to math yields better student success than a memorization approach.

You can read the full article from the Register-Guard here.

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