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Uncommon uprising

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EDUCATION | A math problem sparked a statewide revolt against new public education standards in Indiana. And that revolt against Common Core has now gone national

 

Two years ago in September, Heather Crossin’s 8-year-old daughter Lucy came home from her Catholic school in Indianapolis with a math problem that seemed unusual.

“Bridge A is 407 feet long. Bridge B is 448 feet long,” the problem read. “Which bridge is longer? How do you know?”

“Bridge B is longer,” Crossin’s daughter had written. “I found this out by just looking at the number and seeing that 448 is greater than 407.”

The youngster’s answer was mostly wrong: According to her new textbook, enVisionMATH Common Core, she was supposed to compare the hundreds column, the tens column, and the ones column individually. The teacher gave her one point out of three.

“To me that was a reasonable answer for a third-grader,” says Crossin, 47, who complained to the school principal, along with other parents, about unfamiliar teaching techniques in the new math books. The principal said the school had no choice but to use them—the books were aligned with Common Core, a new set of mathematics and English language arts standards Indiana had recently adopted. The new standards would be reflected in state assessment tests many private-school students had to take.

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