Ask The Advocate: New Math vs. Common Core math

What’s the difference between New Math and Common Core math?

Response from Nell W. McAnelly, associate director of LSU’s Cain Center for Scientific, Technological, Engineering and Mathematical Literacy:

“New Math” came about because of Sputnik and the space program as an effort to upgrade student abilities in math and science. It brought those subjects to the forefront in education along with emphasizing some topics new to K-12 (such as set theory and base-n notation) and teaching with more inquiry, discovery and hands-on approaches. Some of those ideas are now ingrained in what is considered traditional K-12 mathematics.

In the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, there is a deliberate placement of topics in sequences so students can fully understand each concept before moving to the next topic.

That’s one reason why the topic of probability has been moved out of elementary grades to middle school. While young students are usually capable of mastering many of the probability concepts traditionally presented in K-5, there are fundamental topics that are much more important at that age. For example, building numbers sense and understanding of whole numbers and fractions along with mastering addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are absolutely critical for student success in middle school and beyond. How many times do students make it to upper grades without those skills?

For examples, see the attached graphic.