We hear a lot today about how student-centered instructional approaches are get primary emphasis in our classrooms today as a result of Common Core State Standards. Things like problem solving group work and higher order thinking skills development are all the rage.
But, do all those current education ideas really work well? For all kids?
Education watchers searching for answers to that question just surfaced an interesting, two-year old research paper published by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in 2014 titled, “Which Instructional Practices Most Help First-Grade Students With and Without Mathematics Difficulties?”
This AERA paper looks at the effectiveness of various math instructional approaches with first-grade students, especially including those students with “Mathematics Difficulties” (MD).
The research team concluded:
“Only teacher-directed instruction was significantly associated with the achievement of students with MD.”
The paper also says:
“A higher percentage of MD students in the first-grade classrooms were associated with greater use by teachers of manipulatives/calculators and movement/music to teach mathematics.”
So, thanks to the one-size-must-fit-all approach that Common Core has triggered, kids who have problems learning math tend to be subjected to ineffective instructional approaches more often in their classrooms even though things like using manipulatives and calculators with these troubled early math learners is not effective. For these MD students, Common Core has resulted in the wrong stuff coming into their classrooms.