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Math homework giving more parents trouble, tutors say

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Apr. 7, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Some educators say an increasing number of parents are having trouble helping their young children with basic math. They say Common Core State Standards have made it more difficult for parents to help with a child’s homework.

When the new standards were set in place, it didn’t change math principles. But some math tutors say homework looks very different.

Mathnasium owner Mark Minson said, “It’s not that the math is any different. It’s not that the concepts have changed. It’s just the way it’s presented, and that’s where the trouble is.”

Minson said steps have been added to math assignments that were not part of what many parents learned when they were growing up, and some of these steps might not be necessary.

“If I can do 18 minus 7 in my head, do I really need to be able to explain it in three different ways?" he asked. "For a second grader, I believe that answer is ‘no.’”

Plus, these new steps must be followed closely. He said it’s not enough just to get the answer right.

It's not that the concepts have changed. It's just the way it's presented, and that's where the trouble is.

–Mark Minson

“It’s really unfair to the kids to say, ‘I’m sorry, you don’t get your score for this because you didn’t do it my way,’” he said.

That’s not to say all of the things being taught through the Common Core State Standards are bad. Minson said there are good reasons why the extra steps are important. However, he said some of these concepts are being taught too early.

“The intellectual capacity of most kids isn’t mature enough to make that leap at such a young age,” he said.

Paul Nelson

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