Study: Math requirements not aligned with Common Core in many states

In a new sign that schools are not ready to fully embrace the Common Core State Standards, a report concludes that the large majority of states that have adopted the Core have not adjusted their math high school graduation requirements to meet the standards.

The report, issued by Change the Equation and the National School Boards Association’s  Center for Public Education and called “Out of Sync: Many Common Core states have yet to define a Common Core-worthy diploma,” found that 10 states plus the District of Columbia — out of the 45 that adopted the Core — have yet to align their math sequences of courses and graduation requirements to standards. And it says that even the 13 states that seem to be aligned with the Core in regards to math still have “much to work to do to ensure that their high school course sequence and content is truly aligned to the standards.”

Indeed, the “traditional” course pathway — Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and further mathematical coursework — might neglect critical Common Core content or mathematical practices if the courses are not re-examined and aligned to the new demands and teachers are prepared to teach the content. States and districts whose requirements stop before Algebra II are even less likely to expose all their high school students to the full range of Common Core material.

The Core standards are supposed to be fully implemented in states that signed on in the 2013-14 school year. There have been increasing calls in the past month for a moratorium on the high stakes associated with standardized tests that are aligned with the Common Core because so many teachers have not had enough time to learn and design lesson plans that meet the new standards. Some states, in fact, are pulling away from the Core, though it is not clear how many.

I’m including the methodology used in the report because it explains how they get the list of states that follows:

Methodology: According to the Common Core State Standards’ Mathematics Appendix A, the “pathways assume mathematics in each year of high school and lead directly to preparedness for college and career readiness (page 3).” For our analysis, we considered graduation requirements in math to be aligned if they call for math in each year of high school, including Algebra I, geometry and Algebra II. The Common Core authors suggest two curricular pathways through high school mathematics that incorporate all of the high school benchmarks:

…the traditional pathway: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, plus further mathematical or technical coursework; or

…the integrated pathway: Integrated Math I, Integrated Math II, Integrated Math III, plus further mathematical or technical coursework.

States and districts may design other course sequences that align with these standards. However, any pathway would have to include substantial content traditionally taught in Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, and statistics and probability courses.

States’ graduation requirements were first collected by the American Institutes for Research as part of Change the Equation’s 2012 Vital Signs reports on STEM learning. Change the Equation and the Center for Public Education confirmed and updated these requirements through information provided on the websites of the state departments of education.

States that do not define graduation requirements at the state level were considered “not aligned.” However, it is worth noting that Massachusetts and West Virginia recommend that districts adopt a curriculum that is aligned, though districts are not bound to follow the states’ recommendations.

Finally, several states have a “default curriculum” that is aligned with Common Core, meaning that students are automatically enrolled in a course program that leads to college- and career-readiness. Students and parents are able to “opt out” of the higher level curriculum. For our purposes, we credited these states with having aligned graduation requirements.

Here’s the list of aligned states and districts:
Arizona
Arkansas
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Georgia
Michigan
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
Tennessee

States partially aligned:
Alabama
Florida
Indiana
Kentucky
Louisiana
Mississippi
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Utah
Washington
West Virginia

States not aligned:
California
Colorado
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Iowa
Kansas
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Missouri
Montana
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Dakota
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Vermont
Wisconsin
Wyoming

States that didn’t adopt Core
Alaska
Minnesota (math only)
Nebraska
Texas
Virginia

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | June 12, 2013