Math Matters: How the Common Core Will Help Prepare Today’s Students for College and Career and Improve the United States’ Performance in Math Education

Student working on math problems

A 12-year-old student works on math problems as part of a trial run of a new state assessment test in Annapolis, Maryland, February 12, 2015. Source: AP/Patrick Semansky

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)–August 13, 2015.  Researchers and employers alike acknowledge that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, skills are critical for highly educated workers, as well as professions that do not require a college degree. However, the United States’ K-12 system is not currently preparing all students to fill these jobs, which poses a grave threat to the United States’ economic future. A new report from the Center for American Progress highlights how the Common Core’s math standards aim to tackle this challenge head on by helping students better understand the concepts that underlie mathematics, improve their critical thinking skills, approach problems from different perspectives, and apply what they learn to real-world problems.

“As a former high school teacher in north Philadelphia, I saw firsthand the difference between what most students learn in the classroom and what is expected of them when they graduate to college or career,” said Max Marchitello, CAP Policy Analyst and co-author of the report. “Common Core math addresses this problem head on by teaching all students how to think critically and improving their problem-solving skills in a thoughtful way that goes beyond rote memorization. Given the growing importance of STEM knowledge, Common Core math will benefit all students—especially the millions of low-income students and students of color whose academic and career prospects could be jeopardized by limited exposure to a high-quality STEM education.”

“Strong mathematical reasoning and a solid grasp of STEM subjects are critical skills for our students to be competitive in college and careers,” said Catherine Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “By staying the course with standards, providing high-quality professional development to teachers, and communicating regularly with parents, schools and districts can ensure that students learn the mathematical concepts they will need to succeed in life.”

The Common Core math standards were developed to provide students with the tools they need for success beyond high school, CAP’s report explains, by helping improve students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The report demonstrates in clear terms how conceptual math actually works, the research behind the approach, and the positive impact it can have on student achievement. The report compares conceptual math to the standard algorithmic approach, unpacks several specific standards, and illustrates how conceptual math stacks important concepts on top of one another—all of which can help lead to improved outcomes for students.

CAP’s report also outlines recommendations for ensuring the success of Common Core math, including providing high-quality and continuous professional development and support to teachers and routinely communicating with parents about what their children are learning and how it prepares them for college and careers.

Click here to read “Math Matters: How the Common Core Will Help the United States Bring Up Its Grade on Mathematics Education” by Max Marchitello and Catherine E. Brown.

Related resources:

For Women and Girls, the Common Core Is a Step Toward Greater Equity from the Center for American Progress and the American Association of University Women

Video: What Do the Common Core Standards Mean for Students? from the Center for American Progress