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Math Teacher Talk: 'How Do You Like Common Core?'

Live from NCTM in New Orleans

Greetings from The Big Easy, Curriculum Matters readers. I'm here for the next two days with more than 7,000 educators from around the country for the annual National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference.

My trip started, appropriately enough, with an overheard conversation highlighting some timely and very thorny issues around the Common Core State Standards. Behind me on the flight, a 7th grade math teacher from Houston introduced herself to a 7th grade math teacher from Chicago. Both were headed to NCTM as well. "So, how do you like common-core math?" asked the woman from Texas—one of the few states that did not adopt the standards. "Oh, it's going O.K.," said the Illinois teacher. "It's a little confusing right now. We just took our state tests ... ." 

In Chicago, the mandated state tests are not yet aligned with the common standards. Last month, teachers and parents at more than 70 Chicago schools boycotted the tests, saying they did not reflect the updated curriculum and were not useful in gauging student or teacher performance. 

The Chicago teacher went on to say that her school has spent "a ton of money on curriculum." That's something plenty of districts across the country can relate to as they're continually faced with a multitude of curricular options for purchase (as the vendor hall here illustrates!)—and as the common-core-aligned tests approach next spring and the stakes for those choices become more real. 

I'm looking forward to hearing more of these broad conversations about the realities of common-core implementation, as well as more focused talk about specific math teaching strategies.  

For updates, follow me on Twitter @LianaHeitin.

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