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Adult Education, Mathematical Learning and the Common Core Learning Standards



Please note: 


This site was developed by the CUNY Adult Literacy PD Team. Click here for more recent math resources developed by the Team 



On this page, you will find:


Please note: Any words or phrases on this page that are red are links and will take you to more resources


The TASC: Mathematics and High School Equivalency 


What is the TASC?

The Test Assessing Secondary Completion, developed by CTB/McGraw Hill, will replace the GED in New York State beginning in January, 2014. 


The TASC is based on the Common Core Standards for Mathematics. What does this mean for math instruction?

  • Students working on fewer and more complex problems

  • Students writing and talking about mathematical thinking -  their own and their classmates

  • Taking more time with each math content area we teach - Students will need to answer questions that go beyond procedures. To do that, they will need a deeper understanding of math concepts and problem-solving strategies. They will need to learn perseverance. To do all of that, we need to cover fewer math topics, and go deeper into the topics we teach

  • Making deeper and real connections between the math that we teach.

  • Presenting data, statistics, measure of central tendencies in the context science and social studies 


To learn more about the math section of this new exam, click here.


To learn more about how to prepare your students for this test, look at the four recommendations and teacher resources below. 



The Common Core Standards for Mathematics: An Introduction

Produced by the Teaching Channel, this video provides an introduction to the new Common Core state standards including background on the design process, key features, and major differences.




Common Core Instructional Shifts, Emphases and Best Teaching Practices

Recommendations for adult educators to get started developing math instruction in the Common Core Era


1. Teach your students to use the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice 



The Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics

has two central and equally important parts



The 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice


The 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice (MP), are a redefinition and a guide for what it means to do math and what it means to be a mathematically proficient student. The 8 MPs are what students should be doing in our classes at every level.  Phil Daro, one of the writers of the CC math standards has said the MPs are a way to define the content of students mathematical character. Too many of our students say, "I am not a math person". They say that because to them, being a math person means already knowing the math content. The 8 Standards of Mathematical Practice are a way of redefining what it means to be a "math person" - it's not how much math content you know, but more about your attitudes and what you do to make sense of and learn math.


The 8 Standards of Math Practice define the way mathematical knowledge comes together and gets used, as well as productive attitudes and habits of mind in the study of math.  Our first charge is to collaborate with our fellow teachers to figure out we can make these practices central to our classroom instruction.


The Standards of Mathematical Practice represent the ideal place for teachers and programs to begin their work to align mathematics instruction with the Common Core.


From TASCtest.com: "The Standards for Mathematical Practice, as well as the High School Modeling domain, are not separately assessed and reported on the TASC test, but are skills that are incorporated throughout the assessment of the content standards." 




The Grade Level Math Content Standards


The Common Core Math Content Standards are the grade by grade standards. They describe the math content students should learn each year from K-12th grade.  


Click here for more information, recommendations and resources for the Common Core Content Standards



2. Use rich, challenging, non-routine problems with students


Many teachers have gotten the message that the Common Core math is more rigorous and more difficult than what students currently face. This increased rigor is often understood as more advanced mathematical topics. This is only part of the story. The other part of the story is the kinds of problems the depth of understanding students will need to answer them. To really get at the challenge of the Common Core, the link above will help teachers begin to understand what is meant by "higher cognitive demands" and "Webb's Depth of Knowledge"; what Common Core math problems look like; where to find them; and how to create/choose them.


3. Instructional Emphases of Common Core Math Instruction


Learn more about the 6 Common Core instructional shifts/emphases for mathematics and consider their implications for adult numeracy classrooms. This link you will give you a sense of what each shift is all about in more depth.  In addition, you will also be supplied with guidelines for how to incorporate those shifts into your lesson planning.  


  The 6 Common Core Instructional Emphases in Mathematics

Shift 1: Focus

"Teach less, Learn More". Emphasize depth over breadth.

Shift 4: Deep Conceptual Understanding

Students learn more than the trick to get the answer right. They learn the math.


Shift 2: Coherence              

Shift 5: Application

Problem-solving and student independence


Shift 3: Fluency 

Shift 6: Dual Intensity 



4. Develop a deeper understanding of the math you teach 


Many adult education math teachers are comfortable performing and teaching a wide range of mathematical procedures. One of the challenges of effectively teaching the 8 Standards for Math Practice, the Instructional Shifts and more rigorous mathematical tasks is that it requires teachers to have a deeper, conceptual knowledge of mathematics. If they are to be able to support students to do the same, teachers themselves will need solid understanding of how math topics relate to one another, common misconceptions, the concepts behind the procedures and more.


For this learning to happen, it is important for teachers (and program administrators) to remember their students. When students become frustrated or feel shame about not knowing something, thoughtful teachers help them to focus on what they do know and how to build off of that. Teachers need to respect their learning process, which begins with being open and honest about what they need to learn. It is ok if we don't understand something. What is not ok is trying to hide that fact or doing nothing about it.  



Teacher Resources


A collection of on-line lesson plans and thoughtful mathematical tasks. Keep in mind that these were written for students in the K-12 system and will need to be adapted to best fit our adult population. 


Ongoing professional development is going to be a key factor in developing our instruction to meet the challenges ahead. Click on the link above and you will find links to different kinds of professional development to match the schedule and needs of adult education teachers. That includes free online courses, online resources, self-guided and small group activities.




The Common Core Standards for Mathematics: Read the Standards


Read the Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics

Though written for the K-12 education system, these documents have serious implications in defining what our adult students will need to know to earn their high school equivalency diplomas. There are several versions of the Common Core Math Standards. The one that is most relevant to our work is the one developed by OVAE (The US Office of Vocational and Adult Education) to focus the standards on adult student populations. Click on the link above to read the standards.


Watch Videos about Math Instruction and the Common Core Standards 







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