My 4th grade son is learning fractions in his math class. Last night, he asked my husband for some help with his homework. I was surprised to hear my husband say that he never really learned fractions and, to this day, really struggles with the concept. Instead of working with the raw fractions he has to first convert the fractions into decimals and solve from there. After picking my chin up off the floor, I asked him why he never learned about fractions. He said that his family moved after he finished 4th grade. His elementary school taught fractions in 5th grade, but his new school taught the concept in 3rd grade. He never really caught up and has had problems with math ever since.
I could also relate to his ‘fraction infraction.’ My family moved several times when I was a kid and I attended schools in 4 different states. It always seemed like I was either catching up or way ahead of everyone. Each school taught a different curriculum at different times of the year or in different grades. Can you imagine how much easier it would have been for Jack – and me – if a change in school district did not mean a change in curriculum?
Delaware, along with 47 other states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia, has endorsed the creation of common standards and plans to adopt them, along with Delaware-specific curriculum standards. The new common core will allow students to have a shared education, one that can be transferred from school to school and state to state. What a great asset for our children to have, a common educational background for all.
The United States is one of the very few industrialized countries with no shared standards for its public schools. Once states have adopted the Common Core standards—with state-specific modifications and additions—common standards will make it possible to compare student learning in classrooms across the United States, and help us to really see how U.S. students are doing relative to their international peers.
Hopefully, my son can now teach my husband how to use fractions!