Basic bell curve for standard deviation

Nothing so Fuzzy about Florida Math Standards

Florida adopted its new mathematics statewide standards in 2014. Of all the content area standards, none have captured parental attention like the new mathematics standards. Math is one of those subjects where we as parents feel like we should be able to help our kids. Working together to solve a problem seems like a worthwhile family activity.

Sometimes the problems are familiar, but the new standards and the new problems can be very different from the way we adults learned in school. This is because our current standards have added a deeper level of conceptual understanding of mathematics to the overall learning goals – understanding the why instead of simple memorization.

Think of it this way: If you wake up and your car doesn’t start, you might correctly conclude that your battery is dead. Following the normal solution, you go through the procedure you learned to jump-start your car (which typically begins by finding a friend with jumper cables). Problem solved … until your battery goes dead again.

However, a trained automotive technician would first wonder conceptually, “Why did the battery go dead?” He or she would have ideas about causes of the problem. Not only would the technician fix the battery, but the tech would also repair the fundamental reason why the battery died in the first place. With a conceptual understanding of how a car’s electrical system works, the technician is prepared to solve the more complex problem.

The math didn’t change. The new standards enhance the mathematics with a stronger approach to conceptual understanding. Conceptual understanding will help students succeed in higher levels of mathematics and even apply those concepts in other subjects, particularly the sciences and technology.

While they may be a little harder for parents, Florida’s math standards are targeted to the thinking skills that can be applied in many areas, helping our communities develop young men and women who are all capable of tackling the problems and challenges of the future.

USA performance on math PISA relative to OECD countries.

The US struggles against other developed countries in mathematics. Florida’s standards are more closely aligned with an approach to math that will help all US students use mathematics to solve broader problems and achieve their potential.