In yesterday’s Washington Post, Valerie Strauss quotes a litany of complaints from New York teacher Ralph Ratto’s blog post, “Today was the first day I was ever ashamed to be a teacher,” concerning the testing associated with Common Core standards.

Obviously there’s a great deal of debate to be had around the wisdom and value of Common Core.

Here, in GQ, I don’t want to delve into any of that debate. But a single sentence of Mr. Ratto’s description seems to advance a factual, testable claim:

Setting aside ‘valiantly,’ is it factually true that there are math questions on the New York State Common Core assessments, given to ten-year-old students, that most adults could not answer? That seems like hyperbole to me. But I don’t have any evidence one way or the other.

Well, on one hand, whether or not an adult can answer it is not an absolute yeardstick, either! I know some middle class adults of middle of the road education who are STILL befuddled by ratios, for one. They are simply not going to be math savvy, OTOH, my 2nd grader has a natural affinity for math. I see it in him already reasoning things out above his level and being correct. And, his 2nd grade common core assignments are simply…STUPID! They are not teaching math. They now have to write justification for why 2 + 2 = 4. Ridiculous!

Probably true. Plenty of adults can’t do basic algebra, or construct even a simple proof. Which is all the more reason why we need to improve math education. Ensuring that the next generation of adults can’t do those problems, either, isn’t doing anyone any favors.

I’m not quite sure of that. I’m a math geek, and I got all 8 right, but I was guessing at #8 because I wasn’t quite clear what they meant by ‘range.’ I do agree that they’re not incredibly hard if you’re aware of the concepts being tested.

Understand measurement of volume as units of measurement filling a 3-D space, able to select appropriate units, strategies, and tools for measuring volumes

Find volumes of 3-D rectangular prisms

Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system

Write simple expressions involving paretheses, brackets, or braces
… there’s more there, but I don’t see anything that looks out of the line for 5th grade, and most of it is similar to 5th grade standards from years ago that I’ve seen.

Put me down as not understanding the hate for Common Core.

My fifth grader just came home with math homework that stumped me. I graduated college with a degree in Math and Computer Science. Here is the problem:

“Use models to divide. Show all of your work.”

Then it has the problem itself: “5 ÷ 1/8” (as in, five divided by one-eighth)

Then it has five empty boxes, about half an inch on the side.

I dunno, makes plenty of sense to me. Of course, my degree is only in Computer Science, but I did get a master’s…

No seriously, this is just trying to tie abstract division to a real world concept. It’s like those word problems people complain about - they’re making it easy on you, why are you complaining! They could have easily said “You have 5 pies. You divide the pies into 1/8s. How many pieces of pie are there”?

I can’t access the site you linked to, but I assume you’re supposed to divide the boxes into eight sections, and then add the number of sections together.