Iowa Core: Mathematics, Part 3

In Iowa Core: Mathematics, Part 1, we asked whether the Iowa Core Mathematics Curriculum prepares students for college level mathematics course work.  After comparing the Iowa Core mathematics topics to the mathematics topics that the University of Iowa expects students to have mastered in Iowa Core: Mathematics, Part 2, the answer is no.  The Iowa Core does not focus on mastery of mathematics topics that will prepare students for college level mathematics work.  The Iowa Core fails students in a second, important way.  The Iowa Core considers effective use of technology an essential characteristic of a world-class curriculum in mathematics.  The Iowa Core cites with approval the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, 2000, regarding the use of calculators, graphing calculators and computers in mathematics instruction, including during the elementary years.  Compare this with the expectation of the University of Iowa that entering students will be proficient in arithmetic with integers and fractions without the use of calculators and that:

[Students] need to develop a good number sense and the kind of familiarity with numbers that comes from use of paper and pencil techniques for acquiring skills in arithmetic.

By encouraging early and widespread use of technology in K-12 mathematics education, the Iowa Core undermines preparation for college-level mathematics.  As seen in Iowa Core: Mathematics, Part 1, students unprepared to succeed in college-level mathematics coursework will either see graduation delays as they spend time completing remedial mathematics work in college or will find themselves severely limited in their choice of majors.  For all the talk of needing more STEM majors, it is shame that the drafters of the Iowa Core failed to align the K-12 mathematics curriculum with the actual college preparation needs of students so clearly spelled out on the University of Iowa’s website.

One final note: although the Iowa Core Mathematics Curriculum is not aligned with University of Iowa expectations, it does seem to closely track the contents of the Core-Plus Mathematics Program (available here).

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