When working with teachers, I frequently tell them that there are no teachers who feel like they have enough time to teach all of their grade level Common Core math standards. I state it like it is fact, but then one day I realized that I was just making a big assumption.

So, I created a quick two question survey and shared it on Twitter.

Hey math teachers who use the Common Core State Standards, please answer this two question survey. Please RT. https://t.co/nTljSGvBfa #MTBoS pic.twitter.com/T55JzcGfNa

— Robert Kaplinsky (@robertkaplinsky) March 24, 2017

I asked educators to respond to two questions:

- Do you have enough time to teach all of your grade level Common Core math standards?
- What grade level do you teach?

**~17.5% of teachers felt that they had enough time**. I was actually surprised by this number being that high. I really thought it would be much lower than that. Maybe something like 3%.

Below I have the data further broken down by grade levels. For ease of displaying data, I excluded people who stated that they taught compacted courses (for example 8th grade and Algebra in one year) or were not a classroom teacher. You can download the complete data set if you’d like to do your own analysis.

The graph may be misleading because it is just showing percentages. For example, kindergarten and 3rd grade appear to be relatively high, but when you look at the number of teachers who responded, it’s unclear as to whether the sample size is representative of the larger population.

- Kinder – 33% (1 of 3)
- 1st – 0% (0 of 1)
- 2nd – 0% (0 of 4)
- 3rd – 50% (5 of 10)
- 4th – 19% (5 of 26)
- 5th – 18% (7 of 40)
- 6th – 15% (8 of 53)
- 7th – 9% (5 of 58)
- 8th – 21% (12 of 57)
- Alg I – 24% (8 of 34)
- Geo – 20% (5 of 25)
- Alg II – 9% (2 of 22)
- Int I – 18% (2 of 11)
- Int II – 20% (2 of 10)
- Int III – 0% (0 of 6)
- Pre-Calculus – 0% (0 of 1)
- AP Calculus – 0% (0 of 1)

- How long are people teaching math every day? (Mrs. R said she she had enough time because she has 90 minutes for math every day. Nickolas Corley and Josh Zagorski also said yes because they each have 80 minutes for math every day)
- How long are the school years? One person emailed me to say that she said yes because students were in class for 210 days
- How is each person interpreting what it means to teach their grade level standards?
- Do people interpret “teach[ing] all of your grade level Common Core math standards” as teaching everything in the textbook?
- Are teachers with custom curriculum more likely to say they have enough time?

What are you thinking? What questions do you still have? What would you like to ask teachers to get more clarity on this question? Please let me know in the comments.

I teach 6th grade in NJ. I can say that I am able to “cover” all of the standards in my school year (180 days, 70 minute periods). However I do not feel all of the standards are taught thoroughly enough for the students to lreally learn them. I always feel rushed. If I find students need longer to learn a topic, I have to keep moving.

Yeah, it really does get at the heart of what it means to teach or “cover” a standard.

I strongly relate to this response.

Hi. I love reading all the comments. I, too, struggle to find time for everything. What I find myself wondering is how the responses might change if you asked whether teachers had enough time to teach their “students” instead of their “standards”.

I teach third graders and often need to teach things that aren’t on my grade level list. I also have students who arrive proficient in some standards. I want to teach them something as well.

Here, for me, is where time becomes the tyrant. I need to determine strengths and decide where and what to build and there aren’t enough hours for that. Especially in math.

I have great workshop models for meeting individual needs in reading and writing. I’d love to know if anyone had cracked that code when it comes to math. But since I mostly lack meaningful endeavors in which to embed the skills, it has so far eluded me.

Wondering if you have heard of Building Thinking Classrooms by Peter Liljedahl? I’ve been helping teachers implement the practices in this book. Our PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) cycles have shown teachers what is possible once kids are actually doing the thinking and how turning institutional norms upside down with these practices can be a strong structure for developing the kind of thinking needed for a deep shift towards Problem-based learning. My dream is to get Kyle Pierce, Jon Orr, Graham Fletcher, Kristen Acosta, Berkeley Everett, Steve Wyborney, Dan Finkel, Tracy Zager, Robert Kaplinsky, Dan Meyer, Fawn Nguyen, and Peter Liljedahl in the same space to put all the pieces together. Rich tasks built around big ideas instead of granular standards…Low floor, high ceiling, highly visual tasks that can bring context to the math so that the concepts launched are fully accessible. Opportunities to extend the thinking that are progressively more complex and connect the ideas (what kids learn collectively from one problem or task they can use to access the next problem or task.) Regular access to station/center rotations so students can build fluency through cooperative games, digital platforms that collect actionable data, activities using manipulatives, and time created for teachers to sit beside small groups of students for just in time instruction or time to provide access to exploring concepts that are still emerging. Create a highly visual teacher’s guide (with videos) so that we can build our own content knowledge as we provide opportunities for students to do the same. Oh…in a perfect world.

P.S. Let’s make sure Zaretta L. Hammond, Sunil Sinigh, and Rachel Lambert are at the table keeping equity and access our primary goal, while rehumanizing the entire process.

An interesting follow up question would ask students and teachers whether students had enough time to learn all the grade level common core standards.

Thanks for the leadership you provide math teachers Robert

Tell me more about what you expect to see in the gap between asking people about teaching and learning?

45 years after high school in New York I am still traumatized by learning trig in 45 minutes. I walked out of each class not understanding the process not building the base to learn the building blocks and thank god the regents were stolen that year or i might never have graduated high school. I had recurring bad dreams for years.

As a teacher who has taught 6-11 I 100% agree with you. We are “touch and go” teaching! I would rather teach fewer concepts and allow them to soak in, and really allow students to explore those concepts. It is sad really…because I know it starts at the elementary level and we just skim till the end.

Also, read the book “FOCUS” by Mike Schmoker. A great read for this type of argument. 🙂

I think the problem lies in the fact that most educators look at their standards as a checklist of items to teach. Once you do some in depth analysis into the CCSS-M Standards you realize that many of them overlap. Teachers should be working to make connections between and across concepts instead of teaching procedures in isolation.

Agreed. As I’ve mentioned in some previous blog posts (here’s one: http://robertkaplinsky.com/open-letter-writers-future-math-standards/), the standards themselves are very challenging to read which means that this is not happening everywhere.

Yes. This is what my 5th grade team and I have done. We look at what kind of questions our SBAC exams ask of our students and focus on the standards that are covered more in the exam. Like you said some standards overlap so those chapters that overlap, we skip. Even then, we are racing through our text. The problem I have is challenging my higher level math class. I have given them PBL activities, online activities, and they are whipping through them with great accuracy. I will be starting hyperdocs and digital breakout games to try and challenge them. The difficulty part on me is organizing it all for my blended learning rotations.

Fernand, have you checked out openmiddle.com? You might find resources for your higher level math class there that would be a great fit.

Great discussion…. another complication is grading. How might scoring (report cards) discern the difference between reporting knowledge within the “coverage” as in true opportunity to learn versus not showing mastery of the standard(s) when coverage is at risk…?

Yes, Tiffani! Too many times math is presented as sets skills that must be built upon vs as conceptual understandings that are interconnected. When we understand concepts deeply, we can often “re-invent” or intuit the procedures to problem solve.

We need to do a much better job of connecting standards (as do our curriculum materials). I love what Jo Boaler & Cathy Williams have done with the concept maps in the Youcubed curriculum and now for the CA CCSSM revisions. Check it out at youcubed.org in the new California section.

Good topic. Of course we don’t have time. I was hired a month after the school year started and the state exam is given 3 weeks before the end of the school year, but there is so much testing in every subject during the last six weeks of school that really the school year was toast by mid-April. For me, this meant trying to cover everything in the book (which matched the standards) between mid-September and mid-April with lower socioeconomic level students who needed work on how to add fractions of different denominators and were utterly confused by percents and any kind of word problem…in ALGEBRA 1! Between their disciplinary issues, absences, cellphone obsession and general disdain for anything requiring concentration, we had to spend the first two months on the first chapter (pre-algebra review) then race through as much of the remaining concepts as possible. My department chair said “Just do the best you can.” Of course that’s what I did, and it’s what I told the kids as well. The entire school had numerous kids who refused to do any work whatsoever, and many of them were assigned to me. A wise veteran teacher told me, “Ernesto, the bottom line is that no one can force any student who has no interest in being here to participate and learn. With the top students, I’ve found that ANYTHING works. With the lowest level students, NOTHING works, and if it does, it only works until the novelty wears off. Welcome to the trenches. There’s generally not enough time for the ones who want to learn and for the ones who don’t, an eternity wouldn’t make a difference.”

Hi Ernesto. It certainly sounds like there are a lot of additional factors which make it difficult to fit all the standards into one year for you.

Regarding the advice from the wise veteran teacher, I’d be really careful with it. Mentally grouping students into “top” and “lowest” can get really problematic, because many of those groupings are artificial, and with the right interventions, a “lowest” student can achieve much more than people expect.

Ernesto, I would recommend checking out Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets. Assigning Competence in a lesson so as to level the social playing field while delivering high quality tasks that are low floor, high ceiling, can do wonders for the “top” & “lowest” students. 😉

Yes they can, but what are the right interventions? When does a teacher have time to plan that, sponsor clubs, continue their education, attend meetings, love and support their own family? I forgot self care.

This is a great topic. I definitely do not feel we (middle school teachers) have enough time to adequately teach the standards. I would love some data to present to our administration that would convince them that 45 minutes per day is not enough time to teach for mastery of the standards. Or at least, some kind of data that shows a relationship (if there is one) between number of minutes spent in math class and students’ success on standardized assessments. I work in a district that focuses on ELA much more than math, with double periods in 6th grade of ELA, and reading interventionalists, etc., but not the same support or time for math.

Hi Chris-

I’m in the same boat and desperate for that very same information! We (middle school) moved from 60 minutes of math instruction last year to 42 minutes this year. My school administrator is saying he KNOWS the data will tank and we can show higher administration this to fight our battle and gain back lost minutes next year. The trouble with that thinking is that these current students lose big time. Is that data out there?

I am fairly sure of two things:

– Data like you’re looking for does not exist.

– If it did exist, it would be subject to so many other variables that it could mean anything.

For example, to actually get meaningful data, you’d have to have a VERY large number of students who were randomly assigned to have either fewer or more minutes. You’d also have to control for other factors as well, such as socioeconomic status, other intervention programs that they might be using, textbooks, etc.

So, yeah, not going to find that.

And perhaps more sadly, even if it did exist, I’m not sure that people would see if and actually change things.

We have two middle schools in our district. For years at the 6th grade level, we had 60 minute math periods in one building and 45 minute math periods in the other. On standardized tests the students in the building with the longer math periods out performed the 6th graders with shorter math classes every year for 12 years. Even with that data, I could not convince our district administration that we needed to increase the time for math across the middle schools. In fact, in order to implement a time for tier 2 intervention all classes in both buildings were cut to 44 minutes. Finally last year, with math scores declining, it was decided that a change needed to be made. The voices of our math teachers were finally heard and this year we have a double period, 88 minutes each day, for math at the 6th and 7th grade levels. We are excited to have the time and looking forward to our testing results.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I can see how you would come to that conclusion. While it certainly feels intuitive that more time would result in more learning. I wonder if other factors could play a role as that would be hard to pull out in the data.

My fellow teacher finished the program since January, I don’t know if the students finished too!!!