PA Coalition for World Class Math

                   Welcome to the PA Coalition for World Class Math!

       PA Adopts Common Core                   Math Standards

 In 2010, the PA Board of Education adopted the Common Core math and ELA standards, with implementation in all PA districts expected by the 2013-2014 school year.  A web page dedicated to Common Core news is here.

The Common Core Standards initially enjoyed mostly positive reviews, for example from the Fordham Institute and the Core Knowledge Foundation. A long list of endorsements shows considerable support for the initiative.

However, opposition to the Common Core Standards is growing.  Critics assert that the Common Core Math Standards are inferior to standards of top-performing countries and that they do not ensure adequate mathematical preparation to avoid placement in non-credit bearing remedial classes in many state schools.

In February, 2012, the Pioneer Institute released a white paper that addresses concerns about the legality, rigor, and other aspects of the Common Core Standards.

The 2011 manifesto "Closing the Door on Innovation: Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America" has a long - and growing - list of signatories. As noted by Rick Hess in May, 2011, "The Common Core battle has officially been joined." On 9/23/2011, Jay P. Greene stated that "... the tide has turned and the push to nationalize standards ... will fail."

Jim Sterios has begun posting "Myths About National Standards," and according to Jay P. Greene, every major Republican presidential candidate has "come out clearly against national standards."

Adding to the controversy is the federal government's $350 million  offer for competitive grants for creation of assessment systems as part of the Race to the Top initiative. Two applications were submitted for the Comprehensive Assessment System grants; Pennslvania is a member of PARCC and an advisory member of SBAC, and has also signed up to participate in the smaller NCEE program.

Richard Innes, education analysiist for the Bluegrass Institute has written a critical review of the two large grant applications; Sandra Stotsky has criticized the NCEE's involvement.

           Math Coalition links

U.S. World Class Math Comments on College and Career Readiness Standards

Addendum to World Class Math Comments

Coalition for World Class Math "Design Principles for K-12 Mathematics Standards and Assessments"

Endorsements of "Design Principles"

6-30-09 Coalition for World Class Math Press Release

U.S. Coalition's letter published in Education Week 7/15/09

Education Week's "Curriculum Matters" on the Coalition for World Class Math

PA Coalition for World Class Math letter to Governor Rendell and Secretary of Education Zahorchak 8-13-09

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For something a little lighter, visit our "Math Humor" page, here.

 Time for Change



l comparisons show that U.S. students lag behind their international peers in mathematics achievement by as much as two years by the end of elementary school. This slower pace of instruction might be defensible (or even laudable) if our students achieved high levels of mastery in these elementary topics, but that is not the case. Even when international comparisions include only topics that are routinely covered in U.S. curricula, our students are consistently and markedly outperformed by their peers in many other countries.


We must do better.

Mathematics education for Pennsylvania students must be informed by world-class mathematics standards that provide teachers, parents, and other stakeholders with unambiguous guidelines for what their students should know and be able to do at each grade level.


         Math Problems for PA

For the past decade, Pennsylvania schools have been saddled with inadequate mathematics standards, and the 2010 revision failed to resolve the problem.  The Fordham Institute awarded the previous PA standards a"D." whereas the 2010 standards scored an “F” and were described as being “among the worst in the country.” No surprise, for standards that include “Evaluate and simplify not understood algebraic expressions. . . “

Now, as part of its Standards Aligned System, the Pennsylvania Department of Education web site features video clips of "effective instruction." Unfortunately, the mathematics content featured in the PA high
school math videos is actually middle school level material according to the Common Core Math Standards, which were adopted by PA in July, 2010. PDE has provided written transcripts of the classroom videos; these transcripts were copied directly from the PDE website; deviations from accepted mathematical - and ELA - conventions existed in the original.


1  "The Common Core State Standards Initiative is being undertaken by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to "develop a common core of state standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12."

Web Analytics

The Atlantic concludes: "At best, verbal explanation beyone 'showing the work' may be superfluous; at worst, they shortchange certain students and encumber the mathematics for everyone.

January 2013 Assessment Anchors

"Crosswalk" relates the former PA standards, Common Core Standards, and PA "Common Core Standards."  

 PA college students can use this form to opt out of newly-mandated data collection.

 NY Common Core Curriculum for Grade 4

 3/15/2013 PA applies for NCLB waiver

2/9/2011 PA among 11 states that decline to apply for NCLB waiver, at least for now.  

National Council on Teacher Quality report gives PA a D+ for 2011.

1/31/2012 Fordham 2012 Science Standards: "D" for Pennsylvania  Excerpt:"Overall, the Pennsylvania science standards are inadequate and earn a dismal average score of two out of seven for content and rigor."  The full report is here.

Vi Hart joins Khan Academy 1/3/2012. Vi is best known for her math doodling videos.


Vi's "Snakes + Graph's" video is here.


 Iowa governor proposes tougher admissions rules for teacher colleges. 12/3/2011

More than half of community college students surveyed say they were unprepared for post-secondary study. 11/21/2011

11 states apply for NCLB waivers      11/16/2011

 Education Week Teacher opinion piece opposing NCLB waivers          11/8/2011

AASA and NSBA letter to Secretary Duncan. Excerpt: "The types of changes required by the administration [to qualify for a waiver] require fiscal, personnel and political capital that may be impossible for some states to pull together. . . . Some states may not apply for the cost reasons listed above, while still others may not apply in opposition to what they see as an unfunded expansion of federal power in to education."

Obama offers waivers from NCLB (9/27/2011)

PDE's teacher and principal evaluation pilot (9/21/2011)

PA Senate passes opportunity scholarship bill 10/28/2011

Lexile Ranges revised to reflect "College and Career Readiness"

Fordham Institute: PA 2010 Math Standards "among the worst in the country"; "F" for PA vs. "A-" for Common Core 

PA Adopts Common Core Standards

Final Draft of K-12 Common Core Standards

PDE's Alignment Study 6/10

K-12 Common Core Standards 3/10/10

Fordham: A- for Common Core Math Standards 3/23/10

Jonathan Goodman's Comparison of CC and Asian Math Standards

"Why Race to the Middle" (Wurman and Stotsky) 2/10

K-12 Common Core Standards Draft 1/13/10 

K-12 "Standards Development Team" Members Announced

9/21 Common Core Math Standards Draft for Review and Comment

9/21 Common Core Math Examples

Fordham Institute gives Common Core Standards a "B"

"Leaked" draft of math standards

Math examples for draft


6-19-09 "Dear Colleagues" letter from Gene Wilhoit

CCSSI "Endorsing Partner Commitment Form"

CCSSI Memorandum of Agreement and accompanying letter

7/1/09 announcement (includes names of members of Work Group and Feedback Group)

Even top students show signs of decline in mathematics preparation

A Johns Hopkins mathematics professor reports that the mathematical prowess of JHU freshman in his Calculus I class has declined dramatically since 1989. Click here to read report.


Remedial Math Courses for College Freshmen

According to the report Diploma to Nowhere, a conservative analysis of the data on college students in 2004 showed that:

  • Forty-three percent (43%) of all students at public two-year institutions had enrolled in a remedial course. 
  • Twenty-nine percent (29%) of all students at public four-year institutions had enrolled in a remedial course.

The 2008 survey of remedial students found that:

  • Nearly four out of five remedial students had a high school grade point average of 3.0 or higher.                            
  • More than half described themselves as good students who worked hard and nearly always completed high school assignments.

*******************************  Nationwide, 63% of students taking remedial math do not earn degrees. -NJDOE Commission on Higher Education and Achieve, Inc.

This adds up to a huge financial expense for families and lower graduation rates for students

For more information, read:

Notes on Remedial Math Problem by Professor Jerome Dancis of the University of Maryland.

In college, remedial math is defined as arithmetic and Algebra I. Strong foundational skills must be established during the elementary years in math. Far too often, this is not occuring.