COMMON CORE MATH: Does it add up? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

COMMON CORE MATH: Does it add up?

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Grab a pen. Take 853 and subtract 456.  Did you get 397?

Your answer is right, but if you did it this way -- it's not right...well, it's not wrong – but it doesn't follow Common Core math... the math that is being taught in most of our elementary schools.

Jill Klein has a daughter in 2nd grade and her frustration echos that of hundreds of parents across eastern Iowa. "Homework went from being fun and easy to tears and it's just not fun," said Klein.

Like so many parents who reach out to me, "Amy" has concerns speaking out against it publicly – so we agreed not to show her face.

But her concerns – are hard to ignore. She said, "it went from something that could be easily figured out – now we're googling,we're frustrated, he's frustrated and it turns into chaos. He starts to cry – we've had to leave the room and cry.

Parents' frustrations are more than evident.  A mom in Davenport called Common Core math “Satan's handiwork.”

A dad in Ohio was so frustrated, he sent a check to his young son's school – he used Common Core math with the hashtag – you figure it out.

And comedian Louis C-K has been more than vocal about his disdain for Common Core math: “Bill has 3 goldfish, he buys 2 more. How many dogs live in London?”

But is there method in the madness?  Educators say: absolutely.

Jen McCarten teaches 3rd grade at North Cedar Elementary in Cedar Falls. "We are explaining to our kids how to truly think about their math. When we learned how to do it, we were taught how to carry the one...but we didn't know why we were doing it."

Remember that math problem – 853 minus 456?  Mccarten's third grade class was hard at work on that –  on the left side of the white board – it's the old way of math – the way their parents learned...the stacking method.

On the right side, is the “new” way...common core math...or “break apart” as they call it inside this classroom.

For 3rd grader Macie Robbins – she prefers the new math.

McCarten says Common Core is teaching children what adults already do.  "As adults we do so much mental math – allowing them to do mental math – one specific method to do it."

In McCarten's classroom – the students pick which method works best for them.

I talked with educators at the Iowa Department of Education...they tell me Common Core math is all about teaching our kids critical thinking.

"Rigor doesn't always mean it's harder – thinking more deeply – applying to real life," said McCarten.

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