Key Shifts of the Standards: Mathematics

    The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for math­ematics include two types of standards: mathematical content (what students know about math) and math­ematical practice (how students are able to apply and extend math principles). The two are linked together while students are learning.
    1) Greater focus on fewer topics
    The Common Core calls for greater focus in mathematics. Rather than racing to cover many topics in a mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum, the standards ask math teachers to significantly narrow and deepen the way time and energy are spent in the classroom. This means focusing deeply on the major work of each grade as follows:
    • In grades K–2: Concepts, skills, and problem solving related to addition and subtraction
    • In grades 3–5: Concepts, skills, and problem solving related to multiplication and division of whole numbers and fractions
    • In grade 6: Ratios and proportional relationships, and early algebraic expressions and equations
    • In grade 7: Ratios and proportional relationships, and arithmetic of rational numbers
    • In grade 8: Linear algebra and linear functions

    This focus will help students gain strong foundations, including a solid understanding of concepts, a high degree of procedural skill and fluency, and the ability to apply the math they know to solve problems inside and outside the classroom.

    2) Coherence: Linking topics and thinking across grades 
    Mathematics is not a list of disconnected topics, tricks, or mnemonics; it is a coherent body of knowledge made up of interconnected concepts. Therefore, the standards are designed around coherent progressions from grade to grade. Learning is carefully connected across grades so that students can build new understanding onto foundations built in previous years.  Each standard is not a new event, but an extension of previous learning.
    3) Rigor: Pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application with equal intensity
    Rigor refers to deep, authentic command of mathematical concepts, not making math harder or introducing topics at earlier grades. To help students meet the standards, educators will need to pursue, with equal intensity, three aspects of rigor in the major work of each grade: conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application.

    Conceptual Understanding:  The standards call for conceptual understanding of key concepts, such as place value and ratios. Students must be able to access concepts from a number of perspectives in order to see math as more than a set of mnemonics or discrete procedures.

    Procedural skills and fluency: The standards call for speed and accuracy in calculation. Students must practice core functions, such as single-digit multiplication, in order to have access to more complex concepts and procedures. Fluency must be addressed in the classroom or through supporting materials, as some students might require more practice than others.

    Application: The standards call for students to use math in situations that require mathematical knowledge. Correctly applying mathematical knowledge depends on students having a solid conceptual understanding and procedural fluency.

    Mathematical Practices
    1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
    2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
    3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
    4. Model with mathematics.
    5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
    6. Attend to precision.
    7. Look for and make use of structure.
    8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

    Resources for parents for each grade level

    Parent Roadmaps: Supporting Your Child in Mathematics
    (The Council of the Great City Schools)


    Parents' Guide to Student Success​
    (National PTA)





Additional Resources

  • Great Kids!

    This organization provides parents with concrete tips and ideas for improving student learning by grade and subject area. Of note, they have a helpful library of videos that show grade-by-grade reading, math, and writing skills in action.

    The State of Washington has developed "Your Child's Progress" to help parents understand learning standards in all subjects from First grade through High School for the 2014-15 school year.  There is also detailed information, by grade level, about the schedule for State assessment windows.   Materials are available online and in print for English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Tagalog and Vietnamese. 

    This organization is where the state-led effort to develop common standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts all started.  The complete standards are available to read and download here.  This site also has a strong FAQ and an informative "Myths vs. Facts" section.
    Ready WA Coalition
    Ready Washington is a coalition of Washington state education agencies, associations and advocacy organizations that has created Common Core education materials tailored to parents and interested citizens who want to learn more about the history and rationale behind the state-led Common Core standards.  The Frequently Asked Questions section is very informative and there's also a link to a practice Smarter Balanced assessment.
    This organization of urban public school districts has created an extensive website on the Common Core State Standards. Their Parent Roadmaps provide specific information on what students will learn at grades Kindergarten through High School and how parents can help student learn outside of school.  Materials are available in English and Spanish.
    The National Parent Teacher Association created Parents' Guides to Student Success.  These guides provide an overview of what your child will learn by the end of each grade in mathematics and English language arts/literacy, activities that parents can do at home and methods for building stronger relationships with your child's teacher.