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Common Core Math

Kathy Liu Sun, a professor here at Santa Clara University's Education Department, wrote an article in The Washington Post about how the method teachers are using for preparing students for the Common Core math sections are far from ideal. The Common Core State Standards are a series of evaluations aimed at unifying what students learn in K-12 schools1. According to Sun, the problem that students are facing is that teachers are only demonstrating approaches to math problems that follow the "rules" for approaching them; by not letting students choose which method is best for them when encountering a math question, it hurts the student's math scores. What teachers need to do is teach various approaches to a problem, and allow students to figure out which method works best for them. Sun states that we need to "let the students do the thinking" when it comes to which method to use when solving a math problem, and the Common Core scores suffer because of the lack of methods provided to students. The solution to this problem is not simply forcing teachers to teach more than one approach to a math problem, but is working towards better teacher-parent support to be able to identify what works best for which student. On the Common Core, Sun stated that "we need more open-ended math problems" because these types of problems provide the opportunity for a student to approach the problem in various ways and use the method that will best work for them.